Classroom ventilation talks begin in bid to keep kids Covid safe

Source: 1News

Experts are meeting with health and education officials this week to talk about air purifiers and CO2 monitors for schools as part of what they say is a “gold standard” to operate schools safely in a Covid environment.

Auckland schools were due to open up on Monday before escalating case numbers put a halt on that plan.

It’s looking increasingly likely the Government will reopen schools in the regions with tighter restrictions while the virus is still spreading.

Auckland paediatrician, Dr Jin Russell, told 1News rapid conversations are being had about what more can be done to make schools safer.

“What I'm looking for here is for the Government to go one step further and follow gold standard plans for school reopening which has been produced elsewhere,” she said.

In the Australian state of Victoria, over 51,000 air purifiers have been ordered and will be in all public schools by the end of the year.

Russell said that should happen here with a particular focus on making sure schools which are lower decile and those which have higher number of Māori and pacific students “receive a greater share of resources”.

A child doing homework (file).

The Education Ministry said schools already “meet the ventilation requirements in the Building Code by passive means (i.e., with windows, doors, and vents that open and close)” but Russell argued air purifiers went one step further and cleaned the air too.

“Out of the covid-19 recovery fund this would not be a huge expense particularly if you consider the impacts of having to shut down a school because of a major outbreak,” she said.

The ministry also said since 2017 it has been testing, “Internal Environment Monitoring devices that monitor CO2 in addition to thermal comfort, lighting and acoustics” and it intends to install them in more schools over time.