A study of the University of Central Florida recently published in the journal Physics of Fluids sustains that masks and a good ventilation system are more important than social distancing for reducing the airborne spread of COVID-19 in classrooms. “The research is important as it provides guidance on how we are understanding safety in indoor environments,” says Michael Kinzel, an assistant professor in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and study co-author. The aerosol transmission routes were examined and proved transmission probability does not decrease with increased physical distancing. In the study, the researchers created a computer model of a classroom with students and a teacher. The classroom model was 709 square feet with 9-foot-tall ceilings, similar to a smaller-size, university classroom.
Computational Fluid Dynamics is often used to understand the aerodynamics of cars, aircraft and the underwater movement of submarines. Regarding results of the study, a ventilation system in combination with a good air filter reduced the infection risk by 40 to 50% compared to a classroom with no ventilation. The research is part of a larger overall effort to control airborne disease transmission and better understand factors related to being a super-spreader.