CO2 Monitors: Guidance for Schools

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 6 December 2021.

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Photo of Paula Bradshaw Paula Bradshaw Alliance 3:15, 6 December 2021

T1. Ms Bradshaw asked the Minister of Education to advise what schools should do if a CO2 monitor shows a red light, particularly because a constituent who contacted her said that when that happened in a school recently and the school asked for guidance on what it should do, none was available. (AQT 1871/17-22)

Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP

I thank the Member for her question, which gets into technical detail. I advise the school to contact the EA for support. If that support does not come freely enough, I am happy to follow up on the Member's behalf with the school.

Photo of Paula Bradshaw Paula Bradshaw Alliance

Thank you, Minister. The school said that when it asked for guidance, there was none. My supplementary question relates to high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. Are you going to purchase those for schools as well, just to purify the air?

Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP

I thank the Member for her question. As she is aware, my Department secured £2 million in the October monitoring round for the purchase of CO2 monitors and other ventilation works. I have had conversations with my officials and the EA about filtration units. They are assessing each school as the request comes in. While opinion is divided as to whether those units do what they say they do, the focus will probably primarily be on those rooms that do not have windows. On my visits to schools, I have witnessed more and more storerooms being used as classrooms, particularly for the Engage programme and for counselling, and so on. There are many more rooms that may require something like those units. However, EA is responding to those situations on a case-by-case basis. I draw attention to the fact that although the EA has 10,000 CO2 monitors, only 45 schools have requested them and only 400 have been distributed. I encourage schools that need the monitors to put in a request, because we do have them.