Schools: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 13th January 2022.

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Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Shadow Secretary of State for Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 6 January 2022 to Question 94344 on Schools: Coronavirus, on what date between 1 March 2020 and April 2021 officials from his Department first had discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care on the use of ventilation technology in school classrooms to reduce the transmission of covid-19.

Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Shadow Secretary of State for Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Health and Safety Executive about the suitability of 1500 ppm of carbon dioxide as the threshold for funded Government interventions and the carbon dioxide monitors his Department issued to schools in autumn 2021; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Shadow Secretary of State for Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, which models of carbon dioxide monitors issued to schools in the autumn term of 2021 were procured by his Department; what technical standards and specifications those monitors were required to meet; and if he will publish those technical standards and specifications.

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

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the department has emphasised the importance of ventilation and provided guidance to schools, colleges and nurseries on ventilation requirements, including on how to use CO2 monitors effectively to identify areas where ventilation can be improved. This includes comprehensive advice on how settings can improve ventilation from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Where readings are consistently higher than 1500 parts per million (ppm) CO2 concentration in an occupied space, schools, colleges and nurseries should take action to improve ventilation. HSE provides more information on this here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/equipment-and-machinery/air-conditioning-and-ventilation/identifying-poorly-ventilated-areas.htm. This will be indicated by a red light on the CO2 monitors supplied by the department. This does not mean that you need to stop using the room. It is the responsibility of schools, colleges and nurseries to decide on the use of affected rooms in accordance with their risk assessment procedures and obligations under health and safety law. For further information please refer to our guidance available on our ventilation document sharing platform: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/12cU_I5q0v1_my97yPMpb87RsSL5d5lpj.

All CO2 monitors units provided by the department have met an approved technical specification. The department’s technical specification used to assess the units was developed in consultation with industry wide experts in ventilation, including chartered engineers, scientists and several government departments. The technical specification has been published along with the contract on Contracts Finder in line with the government’s transparency agenda. Further details of the models of CO2 monitors issued to schools can be found here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/12cU_I5q0v1_my97yPMpb87RsSL5d5lpj. If schools, colleges or nurseries have any technical queries regarding their CO2 monitors they should contact the supplier of their device.

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