New study shows classroom layout could make “big difference” in spreading coronavirus

Vent Red

A new simulation shows how the coronavirus could spread in the classroom and what you may be able to do to prevent it.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota zeroed in on the placement of a ventilation units, desks, and people.

Univ. of Minnesota Assoc. Professor Jiarong Hong commented, “what we found is really the design of the ventilation, especially the position of ventilation with respect to the individuals… that makes a huge difference”.



In one simulation, they placed the teacher, who’s likely to do the most talking, directly below the ventilation system. In another, the placed the teacher across the room from the ventilation system. In this scenario, the teacher is assumed to be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19.



As the simulations begin, you see particles moving around the classroom. If you look closely, you see the virus spreads significantly less in the classroom where the teacher is directly below the vent.

Vent Red

Here are the results. The red areas represent ‘hot zones’ where the virus could be found in high amounts. The classroom with the teacher across from the vent almost all red. Whereas placing the teacher below the vent helps to keep the virus contained.

But, it’s important to recognize two caveats.


The study assumes the teacher, not a student, is infected. It also fails to take into account what happens when masks are worn.

ABC News Medical Contributor Dr. John Brownstein said, “if we think about best practices like mask wearing, social distancing, proper ventilation, but also the layout of a classroom with respect to that ventilation, I think we’re going to have the best chance of reducing transmission”.


Categories: Coronavirus, Education News