Student study bedrooms pose high risk of spreading Covid-19

Students gathering in study rooms in halls of residence at risk as ventilation rates are only designed for single occupancy

Credit: iStock MartinPrescott

Student bedrooms with limited ventilation risk spreading Covid-19 among students as they return to universities for the first time in six months, a senior buildings services engineer has warned.

Max Fordham principal engineer Ali Shaw said study bedrooms within student residences are typically ventilated at lower rates because they are normally occupied by only one person.

‘Those rooms are not designed for groups,’ he added. ‘I can see why gatherings would make them a high risk. In normal circumstances, social gatherings would be OK for short periods, but these aren’t normal circumstances. Students should be made aware.’

At Glasgow University, at least 172 students have tested positive for Covid-19 in two halls of residence. A spokesperson for the university said the positive cases were largely caused by social activity at the start of fresher’s week. Shaw said students should be encouraged to open windows if possible. If there is flexibility in the ventilation system, he also recommended increasing the flowrate during the daytime, but potentially turning it off at night because of noise.

ChapmanBDSP board director Jerry Lehane said avoiding transmission through infected materials and surfaces was also key: ‘A non-touch environment where there are shared facilities is really important. Measures to consider include making doors openable, and changing to non-touch flushing and tap mechanisms.