MONTREAL -- Teachers' union group the Fédération autonome de l'enseignement (FAE) is asking the Superior Court to order the Quebec government to redo its homework and solve the ventilation problem in schools.

Concerned about new variants arriving in the province, the union said it wants to curb transmission of COVID-19 in the classroom.

Armed with a new expert report, the FAE said that elected officials don't know the actual level of CO2 in Quebec schools.

"The higher the CO2 level, the more likely it is to spread [the disease]," FAE president Sylvain Mallette said in an interview.

Poorly ventilated classrooms put students and teachers at risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 according to the federation, which represents several unions in the education sector.

The FAE said it filed its request for an injunction Tuesday morning in Montreal's Superior Court.

Last January, Education Minister Jean-François Roberge unveiled a report on air quality in Quebec schools, concluding that school ventilation was adequate.

But according to the expert firm EXP, the methodology used by the Quebec government was not intended to determine carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, but rather to measure the positive impact of natural ventilation in school premises.

The firm also criticized the sampling methodology used by the government, pointing out several potential flaws, including that it measured CO2 levels for a single class period, not the air students breathe during an entire school day. In addition, the government report does not distinguish between the CO2 measurements taken in the first period and the last period, but it's reasonable to assume that the levels are higher at the end of the day, the firm said.

The firm added that there was also no indication in the report of how the measurements were taken: how high off the floor? How far from the walls? And how long did the measurement take: five seconds or five minutes?

Based on those concerns, the FAE is asking the Superior Court to intervene by issuing, among other things, an injunction.

It wants the methodology to be improved, its parameters to respect the benchmarks set by EXP, and the government to establish a quick timetable for taking adequate measures in the classrooms. Then, it wants to know the results of the tests performed – immediately.

This injunction comes in addition to an application that FAE had already filed in court to establish an accelerated COVID-19 testing plan for the school system.

The union group's court action is aimed at ensuring the safety of students and teachers, said Mallette.

"The government needs to redo its homework and collect data that reflects the true picture of CO2 concentration levels in classrooms so that it can make the necessary corrections to stop the spread of the virus, including its variants, in schools," he said.

The FAE said it believes that its application for the injunction will be heard this week.

 - This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 9, 2021.