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Schools to be issued with C02 monitors at cost of €4m

A CO2 monitor gives an indication of air quality by measuring the level of exhaled air

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Experts are calling for better ventilation in schools

Experts are calling for better ventilation in schools

Experts are calling for better ventilation in schools

Experts  say there should be new capital building projects for better ventilation and social distancing in schools, as €4m of C02 monitors arrive in classrooms this month.

It comes amid concerns about potential outbreaks of Covid-19 when children return to school as the Delta variant is more transmissible. 

Infectious disease specialist Professor Sam McConkey said: “The 14-day rate in children is already quite high. And schools vary, some have crowded classrooms, some don’t.

“We should only have 15 ­children in a class, not 30.”

Prof McConkey said a capital building project, to extend schools to allow for better ventilation and social distancing, should be established.

Explaining the Delta variant’s trajectory so far, he said: “Because the cases are mainly young people, they’re not getting as sick with it, as we see in England.

“I’m hoping, as we have such high numbers of vaccinated people, it’ll be enough to ­provide immunity.”

The Association of Secondary Teachers’ of Ireland’s new president Eamon Dennehy said: “The Government plan to reopen schools in the coming weeks must provide all the necessary resources in order to assist schools to continue to implement social distancing measures and to enhance inadequate student wellbeing services. 

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of face-to-face education. Appropriate provision in line with the highest standards required by public health advice must be in place for teachers and students to be assured that a safe and quality education can be provided.”

He said there is no doubt that “enormous challenges” remain in the months ahead.

In relation to the C02 monitors, the Department of Education said: “The number of monitors being sent to schools is between two and 20 per school at primary level, and between 20 and 35 per school at post-primary level, depending on school size, at an estimated overall cost of circa €4m.”

The monitors will be delivered to schools directly in August and September, “pre-set, ready to go and requiring no adjustment by the school”.

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A CO2 monitor gives an indication of air quality by measuring the level of exhaled air.

Meanwhile, Professor Anthony Staines, of the school of nursing, psychotherapy and health systems/public health at DCU, warned: “There could be an explosive outbreak in children when they go back to school.

“No one wants it to happen – but we could have a very large series of outbreaks in primary and secondary schools, as Delta is much more transmissible.

“This is not like last September, when children went back to school...this is a nasty variant – it’s a lot more infectious.”

Figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) from the last two weeks when compared to a month ago, show that case numbers in the 13- to 18-year-old age group have risen more than six-fold.

The Department of Education said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has provided significant investment to schools to support them to operate safely and implement all of the infection-prevention and control measures recommended by the public health authorities.

“Extensive additional funding support of almost €640m was provided for the 2020/2021 school year to support schools to operate safely in a Covid-19 context. Funding will continue to be provided to support schools to operate safely when they reopen at the end of August this year.”

Orla Hegarty, an assistant professor of architecture at UCD and an expert on ventilation, said: “More needs to be done for schools in ­September.”  


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