ProtectTheKids Petition: Portable HEPA air purifiers for all schools and daycare centers in Germany now!

To the federal government, the state governments of all federal states as well as all political decision-makers: inside for schools and childcare facilities at the municipal level:

Even if the corona situation in Germany has eased further recently, the pandemic is not over yet . The significantly more contagious Delta variant of the virus has already led to several outbreaks of infection in schools in recent weeks; according to the RKI report, its proportion is increasing significantly. For a regulated new school and care year, safe educational and care facilities for our children are now essential.

Schools are an infection hub . Health Minister Jens Spahn also emphasizes this. Children and adolescents can become infected with SARS-CoV-2, pass the virus on and suffer from long-term consequences. Not only in Great Britain or Sweden, but also in Germany, special Long Covid departments are being set up in children’s clinics (e.g. for Bayern Quelle ). It is high time, therefore, to take the health protection of our children seriously, not just reactively, but proactively and sustainably.

Children under the age of 12 can not currently be vaccinated . However, children and adolescents over 12 years of age may not be able to get vaccinated for a longer period of time because there is not enough vaccine available. Only children with previous illnesses who are eligible for vaccination have a theoretical chance to be vaccinated in good time for the beginning of the new school year, based on the STIKO recommendation. It is therefore foreseeable that safe school operations will present us with further enormous challenges by autumn at the latest (so also Chancellor Merkel on the situation at primary schools. Also, many parents are not vaccinated– These families are largely defenseless at the risk of infection with COVID-19. It is therefore all the more urgent to make up for the failures in protection against infection and to implement the lack of protection for safe education . The highly effective protective component of mobile room air purifiers with High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filters that is available for this purpose must now – as an accompanying measure – be implemented for all schools and day-care centers throughout Germany in order to ensure the safe regular operation of educational institutions. This is even more true when it is no longer necessary to wear a mask in class , as has happened in some federal states.

We all want continuity in school operations so that children can exercise their right to education . In a pandemic, however, secure framework conditions must be created for this. Last but not least, the Delta virus variant shows that simply complying with the AHA-L rules, using CO2 traffic lights and mandatory self-tests on two (or more) school days do not achieve this protection against infection. Ventilation as the sole measure to reduce the viral load in the room can – for physical reasons alone – only be effective if there is a large difference between the indoor and outdoor temperature or if there is an influx of air from (strong) winds, so it depends on the respective weather. If there is an infected person in the room, the virus load increases again after the windows are closed, and so does the risk of infection. The interval ventilation recommended for schools therefore cannot be sufficient to permanently reduce the virus load in the room . Continuous ventilation is out of the question anyway. With the additional use of mobile room air purifiers, which continuously separate the viruses in the room air, the virus load in the room – compared to ventilation – is not only significantly lower overall. The continuous reduction in the viral load is also independent of the weather and any ventilation.

As in schools, safe childcare must be guaranteed over the long term, as compliance with the AHA-L rules cannot be implemented here. Frequent ventilation in autumn and winter is not practicable in nurseries, but also in facilities for children from 3 years due to the low outside temperatures. In contrast, high-quality HEPA room air purifiers create an additional high level of protection in childcare facilities.

For several months now, the Gesellschaft für Aerosolforschung eV has been recommending making indoor meetings as short as possible, creating outdoor conditions with frequent shock or cross ventilation, wearing effective masks indoors and installing room air purifiers wherever people have to stay longer in closed rooms – for example in nursing homes, offices and schools.

According to studies by the TU Berlin, due to the virus variant B.1.1.7 (now: Alpha), alternating lessons are only possible safely for about two hours a day, even when wearing MNS. Because compared to the SARS-CoV-2 wild type, significantly more virus-free fresh air is already required with the Alpha virus variant in order to ensure the safest possible stay. With the expected spread of the Delta virus variant, which is significantly more contagious compared to Alpha, additional protective measures such as the use of mobile HEPA room air filters in combination for ventilation are urgently required.

The 124th German Medical Congress also spoke out very clearly in favor of further protective measures in our schools, educational institutions and care facilities. Virus-killing air purification systems, ventilation concepts, increased space and reduced classes are expressly mentioned.

The German Society for Immunology eV also calls on the political decision-makers to purchase air filters for daycare centers and school classes in order to avoid the expected stronger outbreaks in schools and daycare centers at the latest in autumn and thus the virus from spreading among unvaccinated children and adolescents. It is naive to rely on vaccinations alone.

In addition, the Education and Science Union (GEW) is calling for urgent action, for example by equipping the classrooms with filter devices. In a survey by the State Parents’ Association of North Rhine-Westphalia , in which more than 18,000 parents took part, two thirds of those questioned wanted comprehensive air filter systems for the coming school year. The Bavarian Parents’ Association also requires air filters for all classrooms.

Acquisition, electricity and maintenance costs for HEPA room air purifiers must not be held against the health protection of children and adolescents. Devices suitable for schools and daycare centers cost around 3,000 euros. One device is required per room. Converted, the one-time acquisition costs amount to around 100 euros per child . HEPA room air purifiers are also as quiet as a table fan and are simple and easy to operate and maintain. For this reason, they have been in use for years in many areas, such as in hospitals or factories.Compared to the economic costs that arise from the failure of lessons and care, this is a more than worthwhile investment overall – not to mention the costs that arise from waves of infections and the long-term consequences resulting from them (Long Covid, PIMS). Investing in high-quality HEPA room air purifiers is worthwhile even after the pandemic, as they help to contain cold and flu waves and provide relief for all allergy sufferers.

Children and adolescents are the only group in our society who can expect to spend hours in closed rooms with a lot of social contacts due to compulsory schooling. Anyone who imposes this obligation on them has to do everything to make these contact situations as safe as possible. Just as a school situation that is permanently hazardous to health for unvaccinated children and adolescents may not be accepted, another haphazard back and forth between short-term distance, alternation and face-to-face lessons is an option that we offer our children and adolescents after the past 16 months and all restrictions that they in particular had to bear. The pandemic can only be ended if we also ensure the best possible protection for children and young people through additional measures.

Schools and childcare facilities must be made pandemic-proof. We therefore demand the following as the minimum standard of infection protection:

By all carriers operating expenses for schools and child care facilities:

– The widespread purchase of HEPA room air cleaners for each teaching and support space in schools and child care facilities in Germany no later than the beginning of the school year 2021/2022 and care;

By all municipalities:

– The state governments and the federal government: the provision of the necessary financial resources as well as the unbureaucratic support of the material cost providers and schools and childcare facilities in the acquisition of HEPA room air purifiers.