Energy savings in the event of a crisis will also affect schools and kindergartens. In winter, classrooms should be heated to 19 degrees Celsius, the same temperature should also be in the washrooms. At the same time, children are used to temperatures several degrees higher. While according to the school principals interviewed, this will not be a major problem, in kindergartens they do not agree with the proposal. The Ministry of Education confirms them as well.
Until now, the teachers have regulated the temperature in the classrooms at the Litvínovská Kindergarten in Prague 9 themselves. The nursery was heated to 24 degrees in winter. However, during the coming winter, teachers and children may have to get used to temperatures five degrees lower. The prepared decree of the Ministry of Industry and Trade takes this into account. This determines the temperatures to which buildings will be heated during a potential energy crisis in connection with a cut-off in Russian gas supplies.
In classrooms, playrooms or nursery schools, the temperature should be 19 degrees during the crisis. This is three degrees less than in the previous decree of the Ministry of Industry from 2007. Even more kindergartens will feel the savings in washrooms for children or in toilets, where the temperature should drop from 24 to 19 degrees.
Kindergarten principals contacted by Aktuálně.cz do not agree with the proposal. The head of the aforementioned kindergarten in Prague 9, Hana Šolcová, points out that children often move on the ground, where it is colder. “Children play near the ground or sit at tables. Deckchairs are several centimeters above the ground or even mattresses lie on carpets,” he says.
He also explains that when children go outside, they are often wet, their clothes need to be dried and the children should be properly warmed up. “I assume that children and staff will be sick more often,” Šolcová fears.
Kindergarten K Podjezdu in Prague 4 is heated to 22 to 23 degrees in winter. It has its own boiler room, so it regulates the temperature itself. The local director Eva Doležalová also criticizes the drop in temperature to 19 degrees. “Children in kindergarten also rest and sit during various activities, and because of covid, they have to ventilate more often,” he notes.
Dana Josefína Benešová, the director of the kindergarten in Prague’s Krča, where the heating has been heated to 22 degrees, or Monika Janečková, the director of the Motýlek Kindergarten in Prague 6, disagree with the proposed decree. She also points out that the children often play on the ground and that the nursery cares for regular ventilation, which cools the air.
The Ministry of Education does not agree either
It is not yet clear whether the draft decree will still undergo changes. Comments are now being settled. According to the spokeswoman of the Ministry of Industry, Miluš Trefancová, the decree could take effect in October. It should apply from the date of the announcement of the prevention of the state of emergency or the state of emergency in the heating industry during the heating season.
Kindergartens were supported by the Ministry of Education. In the comment procedure, it stated that it considers the set temperature to be unreasonably low, as the thermoregulation of small children is still developing. “Under the proposed conditions, there is an increased risk of endangering the child’s health. We demand that the current temperature in the washrooms and showers be maintained at 24 degrees, or at least lower than the proposed reduction, at least to 22 degrees,” the department states.
According to general practitioner for children and adolescents from Jihlava, Alena Vondráčková, children should also have more warmth. He considers 21 degrees to be the optimal temperature for teaching. “I consider this temperature (suggested 19 degrees, editor’s note) to be absolutely senseless. Children need a certain thermal comfort, they cannot run in class in thick sweaters. It will be a season of respiratory diseases and ventilation will be a necessity, during which the temperature will naturally drop,” he says .
Liberec pediatrician Martin Zítek points out that this will not be a problem for children who are used to being tough. But according to him, parents tend to overheat their apartments and not ventilate them. “It will be a problem there and they will have to get used to it, they will have nothing else to do,” notes Zítek.
“Everyone can bring a sweater”
Energy saving will also affect schools. Even in this case, the decree provides for 19 degrees in classrooms or dining halls. Currently, there is no maximum temperature set, but classes must be interrupted if the temperature in the classrooms drops below 18 degrees for three days in a row. According to the decree of the Ministry of Industry from 2007, classrooms are heated to 20 degrees. However, according to the interviewed principals, it is usually warmer in schools.
For example, at the Jindřich Matiegka Primary School in Mělnice, the classrooms were heated to 21 degrees in the winter. Until now, the director Vladimír Škuta has decided how hot the school will be. “It is a compromise that has been proven over the years, which should ensure as much thermal comfort as possible for students and teachers,” explains Škuta.
According to him, a decrease in temperature would also represent a decrease in comfort, but he does not believe that this could have an impact on the health of the pupils. “Even at 21 degrees, quite a few pupils walk around school in short-sleeved T-shirts, everyone can bring a sweater or an insulated vest to school. However, this should be a maximum crisis measure that will apply for the shortest possible period,” points out Škuta. He agrees with the proposal if it is necessary in the given situation.
The director of Mikulovice Primary School in Pardubice, Martin Lukeš, has no problem with the proposal either. According to him, schools today heat to 20 to 22 degrees and he does not believe that a reduction of a few degrees would be objectionable for pupils. “However, I can’t imagine who would check the temperature and what sanctions the school would incur in case of non-compliance. I don’t think there are any,” believes Lukeš.
The Komenský Elementary School in Trutnov will also have to lower the temperature in the classrooms by two degrees. The local director, Petr Horčička, also agrees with the proposal if it is necessary to regulate the temperature for the sake of savings. “But the children will be cold. A temperature of 20 or 21 degrees would be more acceptable for them,” he says.
Jaroslav Andrle, director of the Plamínková school in Prague 7, understands that due to the Russian war in Ukraine it is necessary to save energy, but he warns that especially younger students can catch cold and get sick at lower temperatures. “Energy should first be saved in redundant industrial enterprises and offices. Kindergartens and elementary schools should be confronted with this form of savings last, as well as hospitals or homes for the elderly,” he says.
The president of the Association of Elementary School Principals, Luboš Zajíc, points out that some schools do not have controllers according to sections, so they may have problems with heating at different temperatures. “Unfortunately, there are many schools that even have their own heating, but they have outdated temperature controls, so it will be a bit of a problem there,” he says.
It is not certain whether the temperatures in the classrooms will still change. However, the temperature in the gymnasiums will probably still be adjusted. The Ministry of Education pointed out in the comment procedure that the temperature in gymnasiums is now set at 15 degrees, and the proposal would paradoxically increase it by two degrees.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs also draws attention to this fact. “In this single case, a higher temperature is proposed, which goes against the intention of this legislation. At the same time, this increase is not justified in any way,” the department states.
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