International Schools Fight Pollution Woes with Contingencies, Closures

As smog blankets the city today, leaving the AQI at an off-the-scale 553, Beijing’s parents are left to wonder how they should best safeguard their children – and Beijing's international schools have responded with a combination of air filtration technology and school closures.

Beijing BISS International School is making strident efforts to allay those concerns, and took the unprecedented measure of closing the school today to allow students to study from home. 

Ashley Liu, CEO of Mindwalk Studios and a parent of two children attending the International Montessori School of Beijing (MSB), says her children’s campus remained open today.

RELATED: Protect Yourself from Air Pollution in Beijing with Purifiers and Masks

MSB administration director Gabriele Solarik says the school has made extensive efforts to meet air quality standards inside school facilities. Solarik says the campus’ retrofitted filtration system helps the school typically keep its AQI below 5 even in its gym and common areas like hallways. The system is activated and the windows and doors closed and sealed shut whenever the outdoor AQI is over 40.

“We try to be pretty proactive, and have done what we can to make the indoor environment safe for children,” Solarik says. “My own kids go here, so I’m happy when they’re in a safe school like this on a day like today.”

The British School of Beijing (BSB) is also one school that takes extensive measures to ensure safe air for students.

BSB Shunyi uses multiple air purification systems in unison across the entire school, said PR and community development manager Brenda Leung.

"First, we use the Beacon brand of filters in our central air conditioning system. Then we have installed high-specification ceiling-mounted Daikin brand air filters in all of our classrooms, aimed at reducing the classroom AQI to 10. Meanwhile, Our foyer area and hallways also feature air curtains over outside door entrances and a large-scale IQ Air filter over the entrance to the multi-purpose room."

Leung also mentioned that the air in the BSB Sports Dome is equipped for physical exercise no matter the outdoor conditions, and all of the BSB staff are trained on the school's AQI policy as well as proper use of air purifiers in each room.

Measures taken by schools have given many parents piece of mind about sending their children to school on days when the air quality is bleak.

Continue reading at our sister site, beijingkids, here.

Photo: publico.pt

Comments

Fantastic! I feel much better knowing a tiny minority of children from very affluent families are breathing easy.

Anyone know anything about about local initiatives in Chinese schools? Are there any? If so, do they work? Do kids wear pollution masks in class or just sit there wishing they were in an air-purified dome? Are Chinese parents taking their students out of school on bad pollution days?

ChTTay2 wrote:
Anyone know anything about about local initiatives in Chinese schools?

Yes

ChTTay2 wrote:
Are there any?

usually not. When there are, they are weak and ineffective.

ChTTay2 wrote:
If so, do they work?

No.

At the two local schools I have personal knowledge of, the same routine happened:

both schools told the parents they had a fancy air filtration system built into the building. One even took all the money from a PTA event and allegedly invested in a brand new one.

I personally tested the air in the classrooms and the systems did nothing.

In both cases the parents of the students in the class bought our own air machines to place in the classroom, but its a constant struggle to convince the teacher to keep the machine on -- first because there's still a strong sense of denial amongst older Chinese that the air harms your health, and second because the machine itself is loud on its highest settings and tha makes it difficult for the kids that sit near the machine to hear the teacher.

ChTTay2 wrote:
Do kids wear pollution masks in class or just sit there wishing they were in an air-purified dome? 

They sit there being lied to their teachers that the air isn't that bad, or all they need to do is close the windows

ChTTay2 wrote:
Are Chinese parents taking their students out of school on bad pollution days?

Very few, yes

Books by current and former Beijinger staffers

http://astore.amazon.com/thebeijinger-20

Hi Admin, thanks for answering! How about an article or two on it? Seems like you've already got a lot of insight. Prefer to read more about this than more about the Intl schools. Smile

ChTTay2 wrote:

Hi Admin, thanks for answering! How about an article or two on it? Seems like you've already got a lot of insight. Prefer to read more about this than more about the Intl schools. Smile

Thanks for the suggestion.

Two issues:

One is that the vast majority of our readers with kids have them in international schools, so there is less demand for this sort of information

Two is that most local schools are very bureaucratic and lack any sort of formal marketing or PR, so it is very difficult to get information from them

 

Books by current and former Beijinger staffers

http://astore.amazon.com/thebeijinger-20

It's a constant battle with traditionalist Chinese. Windows are constantly opened for "ventalation" many of the kids laugh it off when the "foreigners get upset" about windows being open or large groups of kids playing basketball on days when the AQI breaks 400. (350 with the appropriate mask is the limit for physical activity). Education, Education, Education.

CLJ

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