For millions of Australian students, going back to school can be an exciting time. They can reconnect with their friends and engage in new possibilities. But this excitement is often curbed when they think about their sweltering classrooms. Children, most especially, are not too keen on learning because of the discomfort brought about by little to no air conditioning.
Many studies back up this claim. One example is from the American Economic Journal, which discovered that heat indeed inhibits learning. Over 10 million students were a part of the research. They retook their exams on the hotter school days, and the results were particularly disappointing. According to the study, school air conditioning can help fix the problem.
In Australia, the same problem persists. About 150 schools in New South Wales still did not have air conditioning installed. Even worse, data from the Education Department revealed that 10,000 classrooms in the state have no air conditioning or even evaporative coolers.
It’s a bigger problem for those who live in hotter areas, such as Perth. Primary schools made headlines because many children suffered from nosebleeds, with some becoming very ill. Classroom temperatures go over 30 degrees Celsius, making it difficult for students to concentrate.
The message is clear: environmental factors impact students of all ages. And while most people tend to focus on things like lighting, audio stimulants, and classroom layout, there is another factor that should be considered above all.
We’re talking about air.
Why Is There No Air Conditioning in Schools?
The lack of cooling in classrooms has many different reasons. Some schools do have air conditioners; however, they may have malfunctioned and never repaired. Others cite unfinished maintenance as the culprit, while others simply state that they do not have enough funds to fix or replace the existing systems.
Meanwhile, some schools do not have air conditioners from the start. They were never installed and plans to install them never materialised.
Unfortunately, these issues can have a considerable effect on the learning capacity and interest of the student. Even teachers may not be willing to stay in the room to teach while manually fanning themselves. No one can concentrate on such an environment.
Why Air Conditioners are Essential for Learning
Schools all over the country have faced heat-related issues. Some even had to close early because the students could not take the high classroom temperatures. Without question, heat can make students feel uncomfortable. But is it the only reason why schools should have air conditioning units installed? Does heat really hamper the learning process?
Here are the answers:
1. Indoor Air Quality
Australians spend at least 90% of their time indoors, from their homes to schools to other places like restaurants and cars. Therefore, poor indoor air quality can adversely impact our health and even the environment.
According to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), indoor air is classified as the air within a building. Space should be occupied by different people of varying health states for at least an hour. Students spend more than an hour inside their classrooms, which means that indoor air in this space can affect each person’s health and wellbeing.
Everyone is exposed to some kinds of toxin every day. However, students in an enclosed space, such as a classroom, encounter more toxins than their bodies can handle. It results in them feeling sick and often lethargic. At the same time, they tend to have a lower GPA than learners who are in a classroom with better air quality. The reason behind this is that air toxicants contribute to lower grades. Plus, health problems can lead to students missing their classes.
With an air conditioning unit, air quality can be controlled inside the classroom. It is vital to have air conditioners not just for cooling but also for filtering the air.
Remember, “A” is for air quality.
2. Exam Scores
Imagine you’re in a very hot (or cold) room. The only thing that you will keep thinking about is to get out of there as quickly as you can. That’s exactly what students feel like when exposed to less than ideal temperatures. It gets worse during exams. Studies show that high classroom temperatures lead to a 12.3% increased likelihood of failing an exam.
If students have to answer problem-solving exams, they would usually perform poorly and carelessly. One reason is that mistakes surge exponentially because they are continually exposed to an overheated environment.
To make sure students get the most out of their education, authorities have proposed that schools install air conditioners in all classrooms. In doing so, learning is optimised. ACSIS Air handles all your air conditioning needs, whether it is for homes or commercial buildings. We install, maintain, and even replace old air conditioning units. That way, your residential and commercial cooling needs are met.
3. Learning Capability
Dealing with oppressive heat is directly impairing the outcomes of the student. We are not just talking about exam scores here but the learning capabilities of each person. Taking different studies and crunching their data, many researchers determined that students who had to stay in a classroom without air conditioning in a hotter year aided in the decline of their performance.
With no air conditioning units installed, each increase in Celsius reduces the amount learned by the student that year by at least one per cent. It is equivalent to students missing class for two days.
Meanwhile, if there is air conditioning in the classroom, it appears to offset almost all of the damaging impacts of heat exposure on the academic performance of each student.
Heat and cooling are indeed perceived differently by each individual. However, one thing is for sure: high temperatures can hurt student learning. Even the willingness of the student to learn is greatly affected.
4. Summer Heat and Allergies
In areas like Perth, where summer seems to be steady except when there’s a little bit of rain, temperatures can be stifling hot in classrooms that do not have air conditioning. Even fans cannot alleviate the heat felt so students would open the windows if they can.
But there are a few problems here. Even when the windows are opened, it merely means they are letting hotter air in. There is no breeze, which makes it more uncomfortable for everyone.
According to the State Government, schools will resume on 1 February 2021, which is usually when the grass in the school grounds is regularly cut. With the noisy lawnmower in the background, the teacher would normally request for the windows to be closed.
Regardless of whether the windows are open or closed, there is always an issue. Closed windows make the classrooms hot and uncomfortable while open windows can lead to allergies. Pollen is at the highest during midday when classes are ongoing. It is why many students have to skip school because of hay fever or allergic rhinitis.
How does air conditioning help with these issues? Air conditioning offers the following:
- A quiet and closed room for students so they can hear the teacher well
- A cooled space in the most appropriate temperature
- Adjustments can be made within the professional’s control
- Filtered air
Preventing allergens, such as dust and pollen from entering the classroom has become more important than ever. No student can concentrate on the lesson when they keep sneezing, or their eyes are watery.
5. Viral Infections
Viruses are happily floating in dry air. They remain there for hours until someone catches them. Then, viral infections start to happen, leading to more sick people needing time off. Oddly enough, the air can lose moisture even when it is raining. You may have noticed how your breath feels a little drier in wet weather. It’s a phenomenon that people should be aware of. When water vapour is present, it helps deactivate viruses floating in the air.
This is where air conditioning filters become essential. They trap viruses and even bacteria, which reduces the instances of allergies and illness spread throughout the classroom. Air conditioning can change the air quality of any space and even the whole school building. When someone coughs or sneezes, it will be filtered and replaced with clean air.
This benefit alone shows how significant air conditioning can be in a classroom setting. It can lead to a marked effect on how the students focus while in class.
According to the Australia Medical Association, more than 500 people die due to heat stress. Heatstroke can happen to anyone, and it is a medical emergency. It occurs when the temperature of the body is from 37 degrees Celsius to over 40.5 degrees Celsius. This condition is typically known as hyperthermia, which is the opposite of hypothermia.
The common signs of heatstroke to watch out for are:
- Rapid pulse
- Shallow breathing
- Slurred speech
- Strange behaviour
- Problems with movement coordination and concentration
- Dizziness and confusion
- Dry, swollen tongue
- Extreme dehydration
- Headache and nausea
It may also lead to vomiting, the skin turning red, and eventually, loss of consciousness. In many cases, a person suffering from heatstroke does not produce sweat.
But why does it happen? Heatstroke takes place when a person is exposed to heat or high temperatures for a long time. It is not true that you can only get heatstroke when outside the building or doing strenuous activities under the sun. You can also suffer from heatstroke when you are in a classroom without air conditioning. As you can see, heatstroke can be prevented with the help of a functioning air conditioner.
Air Conditioning is Worth Every Penny
We can’t really do much about the weather we have outside. But there is no reason to suffer, especially students who require a clean, comfortable, and healthy classroom.
The question is this: if we can have air conditioners in every movie theatre in Australia, why can’t we modernise schools by giving students the best possible environment for them to learn?
Air conditioners benefit everyone, whether you are a student or teacher. Units installed can make all living and working places better, such as offices and commercial spaces. Having air con in your home, school, or office can address various issues, including indoor air quality.
Asthma is prevalent among Australian children with around 460,000 with the condition starting from the time they were born. Most of them have asthma for the rest of their lives. Particles and gasses – contrary to popular belief – are not a part of the air, and they have a significant effect on air quality. It’s what we know as air pollution, which can also happen indoors, further distressing your child with asthma.
Every time you open your doors or window, you let outdoor air in, which can also bring smoke, pollen, and other allergens. Windows and doors may have leaks, which allow polluted air inside the room. When humidity is high, it can lead to more dust mites. Newly installed furniture and flooring all release chemicals that can make students sneeze and cough.
That’s why clean indoor air is essential. It replaces outdoor air that contains contaminants instead of recirculating them, which happens with electric fans.
Research dating back to the 1970s all show that temperatures over 23 degrees Celsius harm the students. They fail to perform at their best because of the lack of comfort and ability to concentrate. It is a common problem in subjects, such as mathematics and reading.
But for schools that already have air conditioning, as well as those planning to install it, have a few concerns:
- Environmental efficiency
- Ongoing cost
The points above are hot topics that can quickly be addressed by speaking to the right professional. ACSIS Air recommends that all schools and even residential properties clean their air conditioning filters regularly, at least every year, to ensure the air conditioning will continue to work properly.
Additionally, your air conditioners outdoor unit, should always be free from debris, such as leaves, dust, and dirt.
Contact us today on (08) 9331 4366 to have the school’s air conditioning requirements taken care of. We do the job correctly the first time, so students can concentrate on learning and never on heat and discomfort ever again.