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Quebec opposition says real solution is needed to improve school ventilation

Click to play video 'School ventilation problems continue to stir debate' School ventilation problems continue to stir debate
WATCH: Quebec's opposition parties are voicing concern about the potential for more COVID-19 outbreaks in schools. Ventilation is a big problem, particularly in Montreal where many schools are forced to keep windows open. As Global’s Raquel Fletcher reports, there are now at least 80 positive cases in one school south of Quebec City – Nov 10, 2020

Opposition parties are voicing concern about the potential for more COVID-19 outbreaks in schools. School ventilation is a big problem, particularly in Montreal, where they are being forced to keep windows open in order to circulate the air.

Read more: Plans for Montreal schools to open windows for ventilation stir concern

Opening windows is not enough to ensure adequate ventilation of classrooms, say Quebec’s opposition parties.

“For example, we could put in place air purifiers inside classrooms,” said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Québec Solidaire house leader.

This comes at the same time as a school in Lévis, on the south shore of Quebec City, has closed due to a coronavirus outbreak that has now led to almost 80 infections.

“I don’t know the specific reason why there is an outbreak in that specific school and I am not a scientist,” Nadeau-Dubois said. “What I know is that schools are becoming one of the main drivers of the transmission of the virus across Quebec.”

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Read more: Quebec makes masks mandatory for high school students in coronavirus red zones

Quebec’s public health director admits that aerosols can be a significant contributor in spreading the virus — especially in closed classrooms. He said Quebec is looking at solutions.

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“It would not change the other things that are very important: distancing and washing (hands),” said Dr. Horacio Arruda. “If everybody puts now the energy in ventilation and forgets the other aspects, I’m sure we’re going to have more outbreaks. But that’s an issue that we’re looking at intensively.”

While the government says it is studying the problem, opposition parties are pushing it to act faster.

“I don’t think we want our kids to try to be learning with their coats and scarves on,” said PQ MNA Véronique Hivon.

Health Minister Christian Dubé said “it’s not only an issue with education, but (also) with our health buildings.”

“We have buildings that don’t have ventilation, so we need to be more specific on certain cases where, if we have this opinion, then, we’ll act very accordingly,” he said.

Read more: Canada’s schools need better air ventilation. Amid coronavirus, it could save lives

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Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade said this issue should have been settled in September. For instance, the Lester B. Pearson School Board is already working on installing air purifiers before winter.

“There is equipment that are available. You know what even in my place, in my own home I’ve used those. I mean, they exist. You buy them and you put them in those locations. Period,” Anglade said.

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