SARS-CoV-2 transmission in classroom settings: Effects of mitigation, age, and Delta variant

Aaron Foster, Michael Kinzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Traditional, in-person classroom settings have been limited during the COVID-19 pandemic due to their potential to transmit severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) among students, teachers, and other educational workers. Using computational fluid dynamics simulations, mitigation strategies that span approaches using face coverings, various ventilation schemes, air purifiers/cleaners, and desk shields are systematically evaluated in thermally controlled classrooms. Individually, face coverings and source control were the most effective, which was followed by well-designed ventilation systems. The use of desk shields was also studied and appeared to be ineffective. The best mitigation approach is shown to be through multiple measures - using face coverings and ventilation systems combined with air purifiers. The studies were extended to elementary schools and consider Delta variants of SARS-CoV-2. In elementary settings, the reduced pulmonary and viral emission rates of small children are observed to drive reduced transmission rates, to values even lower than those observed with several mitigation methods for classrooms with adults. The Delta variant, with adults, was evaluated by considering an increase in quanta and indicated higher transmission probabilities. These increases are levels that are controllable by increasing the mitigation methods. Results indicate several plans of action for schools to return to in-person schooling in the context of age and new variants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113311
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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