Schools: Ventilation

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

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Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when he informed schools that five consecutive days of carbon dioxide monitor readings from a particular classroom would be needed, or be likely to be needed, in order for his Department to consider further ventilation support.

Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will place information in the Library on (a) how many carbon dioxide monitors were sent to each school in England in the autumn term of 2021 and (b) the dates on which those monitors were received.

Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made in respect of each school to which his Department issued carbon dioxide monitors in autumn 2021 of the minimum length of time required by those schools, using the allocated carbon dioxide monitors at a time when classrooms are in use, to secure five days of consecutive readings from each classroom teaching context in the school; and if he will place a copy of the calculations underpinning that estimate in the Library.

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

The department has now delivered over 353,000 CO2 monitors to over 99% of eligible maintained schools, further education colleges, and the majority of early years providers. Special schools and alternative provision (AP) education providers were prioritised, given their higher than average number of vulnerable pupils. Deliveries to these providers are now complete. Final deliveries to providers will be made shortly. Schools are finding the monitors helpful to manage ventilation and, in the majority of providers, existing ventilation measures are sufficient.

CO2 monitors are an additional measure that we have rolled out to education settings to be used as a guide for where ventilation can be improved. It is up to school leaders to decide how to best use them in their specific school, college or nursery.

The department is also making up to 8,000 air cleaning units available for poorly ventilated teaching spaces in state-funded education providers, where quick fixes to improve ventilation are not possible. Deliveries will start from this week to special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and AP schools, colleges and nurseries. These were allocated in the first application round announced in November 2021.

The second round of applications is open until 9am on 17 January 2022. All state funded schools, colleges and nurseries can apply. Special and AP 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. Schools, colleges and nurseries 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. Further information is available 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, including on how to use CO2 monitors effectively to identify areas where ventilation can be improved. In addition to our existing guidance on ventilation we have provided settings 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 settings with their queries via the department's Coronavirus helpline.

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