Schools: Air Conditioning

Department for Education written question – answered on 14th January 2022.

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Photo of Ian Lavery Ian Lavery Labour, Wansbeck

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many air purifiers are currently installed in school classrooms in the Wansbeck constituency; and how many air purifiers are planned to be fitted in school classrooms in that constituency and by what date.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Minister of State (Education)

During the autumn term, we provided over 353,000 CO2 monitors to all state-funded education providers, including early years, schools and further education colleges, backed by £25 million in government funding. Feedback suggests that schools are finding the monitors helpful to manage ventilation and, in the majority of schools, colleges and nurseries, existing ventilation measures are sufficient.

Maintaining adequate ventilation remains the responsibility of individual providers. Where an area of poor ventilation has been identified that cannot be resolved through simple measures such as opening doors and windows, schools are advised to explore what remedial works may be required to improve ventilation. Where it is not possible to maintain adequate ventilation, it may be appropriate to consider the use of an air cleaning unit while the underlying ventilation issue is addressed.

When used properly, air cleaning units can help reduce airborne contaminants in a poorly ventilated space, including viruses like COVID-19. Air cleaning units are not a substitute for ventilation and should never be used as a reason to reduce ventilation. They are not necessary in spaces that are adequately ventilated.

The department will also make up to 8000 air cleaning units available for poorly ventilated teaching spaces in state-funded education providers, where quick fixes to improve ventilation are not possible.

Deliveries of air cleaning units will start from this week to special educational needs and disabilities and alternative provision providers. These were allocated in the first application round announced in November 2021. The second round of applications is open until 9am on 17 January. All state funded schools, colleges and nurseries can apply.Special and alternative provision providers that were not successful or did not apply in the first round are also eligible to apply in this round. Once applications have closed, all applications will be assessed against strict criteria and allocated to providers based on need. Providers with successful applications will be contacted individually to arrange delivery, with deliveries expected from February 2022.

For those providers that are not eligible for funded units, the online marketplace provides a route to purchasing air cleaning units directly from suppliers at a suitable specification and competitive price. The marketplace is available to view here: https://s107t01-webapp-v2-01.azurewebsites.net/list/air-cleaning.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we have emphasised the importance of ventilation and provided guidance to providers on ventilation requirements. In addition to our existing guidance on ventilation we have provided schools, colleges and nurseries with guidance on how to use the air cleaning units as well as how to order a unit via the marketplace. The application process has been communicated to settings via our Daily Bulletin and we continue to support providers with their queries via the Coronavirus Helpline.

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