Carbon dioxide monitors will be provided to schools in England to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 and aid poor ventilation.
300,000 monitors costing £25m will be rolled out across all state-funded education settings from September.
The portable monitors will allow school and colleges to assess where ventilation needs improvement and take steps to remove air that may contain virus particles from indoors spaces.
A procurement exercise for the CO2 monitors is due to launch on Monday, with numbers available to mainstream schools expected to be in the region of one device per two classrooms and staff rooms.
Special schools and alternative provision will be prioritised under the scheme due to their numbers of vulnerable pupils.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson who has said students getting their A-level results today “deserve” the grades they get, awarded by teacher assessment rather than national exams.
(Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “By keeping up simple measures such as ventilation and testing, young people can now enjoy more freedom at school and college.”
Labour’s shadow education secretary Kate Green accused the Government of being “too slow to act” with the procurement process starting close to the beginning of term, adding it had “still done nothing to actually improve ventilation in education settings despite calls from Labour, education professionals and parents”.
The National Education Union Joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The educational benefits of good ventilation are very clear.
“Not only will this make it more likely that young people can continue with on-site learning, but good ventilation will also aid their concentration.
He added: “Ventilation is essential, but it cannot be the only measure in place, especially if children are not vaccinated.
“Government should support leaders in secondary schools and colleges in weighing up the case for continuing to require staff and students to wear face coverings around the premises – including potentially in classrooms.”
Eden has once again be named amongst the regions with mass week-on-week infection rate increases.
General secretary Geoff Barton said: “Government guidance to schools and colleges on reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission highlights the importance of keeping spaces well ventilated, but doesn’t go much further than recommending that windows should be opened to improve natural ventilation.
“This is challenging in the depths of a British winter and does not make for an environment which is conducive to learning.
“Our understanding is that carbon dioxide monitors will indicate when spaces need ventilating thereby reducing the need to keep windows open all the time.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, added: “We need these monitors to get into schools without delay.”
Carbon dioxide level. Digital CO2 meter equipment isolated on white background.
When schools return from next week, students and staff will also be asked to continue twice-weekly Covid-19 testing, with two on-site tests provided for secondary and college students, the DfE said.
Secondary schools and colleges can stagger the return of pupils over the first week of term to support testing delivery and pupils should then continue to test twice weekly at home until the end of September, when the measure will be reviewed.
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