The summer holidays have begun for the schoolchildren in the district, and hopefully they can now gain some distance from the tiresome questions of what lessons should look like in times of a pandemic. In the background, however, the discussion wheel continues to revolve around the best classroom equipment. This mainly focuses on the question: should air filters be installed there? The local politicians in Garching and Feldkirchen also reached a decision in their last meeting before the summer break – with different results.
It became clear in both places: The pressure on the municipalities to take action is great and has been intensified by the funding program announced by the state government. In Feldkirchen, at the beginning of the meeting, a citizen vented her anger that mobile devices had not already been purchased for the elementary school. In Garching, too, the schools were under pressure to “be able to show something” in the autumn, reported Olga Stein from the building management. At the same time, the municipalities do not want to pursue a purely symbolic policy, which costs them a lot but is possibly not very sustainable. “We need something that enables lessons without freezing even in winter,” summarized the Garching SPD city councilor Joachim Krause.
The mobile air purifiers do not save you having to open windows regularly, but are only a supplementary component in combating the pandemic. With permanently installed ventilation systems, on the other hand, you have to ventilate less often, explained Feldkirchen’s mayor Andreas Janson (UWV); they would also improve the general quality of the indoor air and would therefore be the more sustainable solution. For the – by far more expensive – new installation of air conditioning systems (RLT) in facilities for children under the age of twelve, there is currently a nationwide subsidy. At the same time, there is still a large share that the municipalities have to bear themselves.
Loud devices are switched off
In Feldkirchen as well as in Garching, the local politicians emphasized that the wellbeing of the children was very important to them and that they did not want to skimp on that. Nevertheless, skepticism remains. “We are ready to purchase air filters, even if we are already questioning whether this is really the right measure,” said Garching’s mayor Dietmar Gruchmann (SPD). Green representative Daniela Ried, however, referred to studies that have shown a certain reduction in the viral load in the air through filter devices. From this point of view, the purchase of air purifiers should already be seen as a profit. Her Green colleague Tobias Schmitt from Feldkirchen, a teacher himself, reported from her own experience that mobile air filter devices are so loud in class that concentrated work is not possible – many teachers therefore switched them off. In addition, the devices would often slip and thus fail to work.
In Feldkirchen, the municipal council finally agreed to install permanent ventilation systems at the only municipal primary school. How much that will cost is still unclear. In Garching, the committee found a compromise: an engineering office is to collect the exact requirements in all school rooms, after-school care centers and day-care centers. Stationary air purification devices are being purchased for the West Elementary School and the Middle School, as these school buildings will remain in their current condition in the foreseeable future. For the elementary school East and the elementary school Hochbrück, however, extensive renovations or similar work are planned in the near future; these two schools are therefore to be equipped with mobile filter devices.
Both Feldkirchen and Garching, together with many other municipalities in the district, face a problem: the systems will not be installed by the start of the new school year 2021/22 in September. In view of the huge demand for air filters at the moment, it is foreseeable that both the mobile devices and fixed systems can only be delivered in the following months.