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Government plans to provide 7,000 air purifiers for schools and colleges will fall thousands short of what is needed to ensure adequate ventilation in every classroom, a survey released by NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union has found.

Well over half (56%) of the nearly 2,000 teachers who responded to an NASUWT survey on ventilation said they do not have access to a CO2 monitor in their classroom. This is despite a pledge from ministers that all schools and colleges would be provided with monitors from the start of the current academic year in September 2021 as part of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Even for those that do have a classroom monitor, nearly one in ten (9%) said it was not working properly, with common problems including powering and charging the monitors, monitors requiring frequent resetting and erratic readings.

Over a third (34%) reported that their monitors show that CO2 levels often or sometimes exceed 1500ppm in their classrooms, a level at which the Government has stated remedial work is needed to improve ventilation.

Six in ten of those who stated that monitors have indicated concerning levels of CO2 in their classroom said that their school or college had failed to put in place any actions to improve ventilation in response. Even in cases where actions have been taken, a quarter (25%) said monitors show that CO2 levels are still consistently high.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“Ministers have consistently emphasised the importance of ensuring good ventilation in heavily populated settings as a key mitigation in reducing the spread of Covid-19, yet they have consistently failed throughout this pandemic to ensure schools and colleges can be kept as safe as possible by equipping schools with the tools to improve classroom ventilation.

“Efforts to ensure good ventilation in the fight against Covid should not be a lottery for schools and colleges. Schools should be guaranteed the equipment that is needed, rather than being offered a chance to bid for an air purifier.

“The Government’s promise of 7,000 air purifiers barely scratches the surface in terms of what is needed to ensure that every classroom is adequately ventilated.

“We repeat our call for the Government to go further and ensure CO2 monitors for every classroom as well as the provision of additional air purifiers for every school and college where ventilation has been identified as persistently poor.”

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