The DfE have today (24th |November) announced more c02 monitors for schools in England (so one for every classroom instead of sharing one between two) and are reopening bids for of hepa air filters.
The criteria being used by the DfE for hepa filters is however, again based on Co2 readings “consistently above 1500 ppm” – which is far higher than may other countries and is the very reason why only a small number of schools have been provided with them in the first place. UNISON position is all schools should be provided with them.
UNISON ventilation In schools survey results
UNISON had been receiving feedback from local reps that due to fears over rising energy costs, and lack of government messaging over the importance of still mitigating against Covid, Co2 monitoring and ventilation levels were declining in schools.
Following this feedback we conducted a survey of our schools’ support staff members across UK over the period 4 – 9 November. This included teaching assistants/classroom assistants working in classrooms
Results are as follows:
- 1644 respondents to the survey
- Co2 monitoring – Only 26% of respondents said their schools were still actively monitoring Co2 levels in all classrooms . Nearly 50% (49.7%) of respondents said their schools were no longer actively monitoring Co2 levels in all classrooms
- Ventilation – Only 16% of respondents said the school was ensuring good ventilation in all areas. 38% replied that the school had stopped taking action to ensure good ventilation. 46% said there school was ventilating rooms much less than last year
- What respondents thought were the main reason there school was no longer actively monitoring Co2 levels or ensuring good ventilation (multiple choice option)– 44.6% respondents stated was because there school “no longer thought Covid was an issue” and 42% that there “School is worried about energy costs and heating bills (i.e. more heating is needed when windows are opened)
- This survey shows that lack of government messaging about Covid, and support for ventilation (funding fears and rising energy costs), has led to a huge drop off in good ventilation practices in schools. This is increasing the risk of illness and absences in schools, and is particularly concerning for immunosuppressed pupils and staff
- This has come at a time when the DfE’s owns statics shows attendance rates in schools still below pre pandemic levels https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/pupil-attendance-in-schools
- UNISON is therefore restating our call for government to provide Hepa air filters to all schools and for extension of energy cost support scheme beyond March 2023 (with the government school energy support scheme only confirmed until end of March 2023)
- It is unacceptable that necessary safety measures are being compromised due to concerns over government funding , rising energy costs & lack of government messaging