As Schools Reopen During the Pandemic, Classroom Simulation Helps Make Them Safer for Students, Staff

Safely reopening schools is one of the major priorities in the world today, as the COVID-19 pandemic has put more than one billion children at risk of falling behind in their education.  In order to help contribute to the safe return of students and staff, Dassault Systèmes has demonstrated how simulation that has long been used to optimize industrial design can provide insights for designs, layouts and safety measures to create safer and healthier classrooms.

The coronavirus has been shown to spread through the air via nose and mouth secretions.  Understanding the physics of airflow and where potentially contaminated airborne droplets will travel can help determine what steps can be taken to lessen their impact.  For this, Dassault Systèmes used SIMULIA applications powered by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to reveal the invisible, and evaluate and demonstrate effective ventilation fan placement inside a classroom and optimal classroom seating that can minimize the risk of exposure.

Although the simulations illustrated that wearing masks reduces the spread of droplets from one student to another, masks are not mandatory in all schools and, in poorly ventilated classrooms, droplets can linger in the air and land on furniture and students.  Dassault Systèmes simulated a classroom having different types of ventilation systems and an infected student inside.  As the student emitted particles into the air, simulation showed that ventilation with the central exhaust fan turned on generated airflow that transported the droplets outside the classroom and reduced the number of droplets left inside.  

Dassault Systèmes also tested and evaluated numerous classroom layouts with different airflows to determine which seating arrangement reduces the risk of infection among students.  The team made assumptions including room temperature, viral load of infected students, and the mean diameter of a particle, and then used scientific analysis to determine the optimal configuration.

In addition to making classrooms safer, Dassault Systems’ SIMULIA applications and services are also being used to help building engineers and facilities manager reevaluate their public and work spaces and create safer environments in hospitals, airports, factories, offices and living spaces during the pandemic.  

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