With Covid-19 Lurking, Teaching Indoors Is a Challenge All Its Own

Nov 1, 2020 | News

By David Gould, Staff Editor

In northern sections of the U.S., late fall and winter are making it harder to outsmart the Covid-19 virus. Teaching golf out on the practice range, mask and all, may end up seeming like a luxury to coaches who are moving indoors to work with students.

Expert advice on indoor safety has been widely featured in recent news articles, from the likes of the Harvard School of Public Health and the department of atmospheric science at Colorado State University—commentary from those sources are shared in this post.

As for that mask, it’s still the best tool in the box, especially when combined with frequent hand washing.

Other important steps include permitting entry only to those who need to be present in your teaching space, and management of the flow of people going through other parts of the building, if your studio is part of a larger structure. If at all possible, you should If possible, open your windows, especially during the shoulder season when conditions are more mild. Even just opening windows six inches can dramatically change the air exchange rate.

Fans can be helpful, but not if they’re placed in any spot where they might push virus-laden exhalations from an infected person around a room or into someone’s face. A fan placed in a window and away from people may increase the airflow in a room without adding any risks. If you are in a building with a mechanical ventilator, adjusting the damper settings can increase the amount of fresh air that circulates.

For a space like a teaching bay, a simple portable air cleaner suited to your room’s size will make a big difference, providing several air changes per hour so that the air occupants breath remains relatively clean of contaminants. These are compact devices that plug into standard outlets. Many quite effective models can be purchased for less than $200.

The professional rating board that sets standards for such devices, ASHRAE, recommends air filters that qualify as MERV 13 or higher to filter out the coronavirus. Not all ventilation systems can handle a MERV 13 filter, but most can at least handle MERV 11, which will keep out 60 percent of viral droplets.

Avoid messing with ultraviolet lights, say the experts. They may be useful for disinfecting surfaces, but they require expert installation and are used mostly by hospitals. In general, if you research the marketplace of devices for air filtration extensively, you will come across exotic-sounding products that are not to be trusted. Harsh chemicals, used indoors, have their own negative health effects.

Proponent members will also find, as they move indoors, that safety measures can’t be imposed by the coach acting independently—it may take conversations and even negotiations with a landlord. So, set aside bandwidth and time for that activity, if it’s necessary in your case.