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Making sure there is enough fresh air is one of the four basic rules designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But what about the ventilation in the UvA’s buildings? This article sets out some key points.

Will I be able to work and study safely in the buildings?

Ensuring a safe environment in which to work and study at the UvA is our top priority. All our buildings are compliant with the ventilation guidelines issued by the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Meaning you can work and study here safely.

To ensure that this remains the case, we have signed maintenance contracts for ventilation systems and we regularly perform measurements. The air pumped into the classrooms at the UvA is systematically checked. In case of doubt or if faults arise, we will examine the location and take technical or organisational measures. If need be, we might have to close a room or building temporarily.

How does the ventilation work in the UvA’s buildings?

We have three types of ventilation at the UvA: natural (usually through a window) and mechanical (through an extraction system) and a combination of both.

This is because our buildings were built at different times. The older buildings often are naturally ventilated, often supported with mechanical systems. Whichever system is in the room; the supply of clean air and removal of ‘old air’ is continuously measured, thereby ensuring that aerosols are removed and recirculation of air is kept to a minimum if it is a risk.

What should I do to ventilate the room?

In rooms where there is only natural ventilation, you should let in more outside air by opening windows and doors.

The RIVM specifies the following: open windows and doors opposite one another for 10-15 minutes every 1-2 hours. If a room only has natural ventilation, this will be indicated at the entrance. It will also state the maximum number of people the room is allowed to hold.

If you would like to take in an additional fan, you can do so on the proviso that you are the only person in the room. If there are several people in a room, you will first need to assess whether the air flow is simply going from one person to another. Which is a complicated procedure. For that reason, RIVM recommends not using such fans indiscriminately.

What happens if there is a fault in or doubt about the systems?

We will take prompt action in response to a report. We have set up our system in such a way that complaints regarding ventilation are our top priority.

If a complaint comes in, our first step will be to perform a control measurement: a CO2 measurement or volumetric check. If it turns out that the ventilation is not working properly, we will intervene. A technical intervention will be our preferred approach, as we are keen to minimise the impact on teaching or work in the room. If that proves insufficient, we will take organisational measures. This may necessitate temporary discontinuation of teaching in a room or building. Staff and students who will be inconvenienced by this will be informed.

Is the ventilation poor if it is hot or stuffy in a room?

Not necessarily. Climate and ventilation are two different things, though they can sometimes seem related.

In some rooms, the cooling has been switched off because we want to avoid the same air being blown into the same room again. It can sometimes get warmer in these rooms as a result, making them feel stuffy. But this does not mean that the ventilation is not working properly.

Who should I contact if I have questions or concerns regarding the ventilation?

For questions or complaints pertaining to ventilation or in the event of a fault arising, please get in touch with the FS Service Desk by calling 020 525 1403 or by sending an email to servicedesk-fs@uva.nl. You can also submit a report directly using the report form. Once we receive your report, we will contact you and examine the room. Measures will be taken if necessary.

For more information about ventilation, please see the AZ list: