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Unions call for improved ventilation in schools

By Rachel Lawlerchild playing windows ventilation covid 19 nurseries

Education unions, including NEU, NAHT, ASCL, GMB, Unison, Unite and NASUWT, have written to education minister Gavin Williamson calling for “firm action” to improve ventilation in schools.

The letter cited the risks of children suffering with ‘Long Covid’ and concerns about a new wave of flu in the autumn.

The unions have called for measures such as carbon monoxide monitors and micro filters to ensure that air is flowing and harmful particles are removed.

The Department for Education (DfE) has previously confirmed that it has not “provided specific additional funding for schools to improve classroom ventilation” since January 2021.

The DfE is planning a pilot scheme, due to start in September, to asses the use of air purification technology in school settings.

The Health and Safety Executive says that the need for employers to ensure that there is “an adequate supply of fresh air” in the workplace has not changed during the pandemic and that deciding what adequate ventilation looks like should form part of workplace risk assessments.

Jim Kennedy, Unite’s national officer for education, said: “Public health experts have identified that proper ventilation is a key prerequisite as we enter the next stage in containing coronavirus. Free-flowing air circulation in schools, as well as workplaces and other places where people gather, should be a government priority.

“During the pandemic, education secretary Gavin Williamson has been shown to be slow-footed in his responses, now he has an opportunity to get on the front foot with increased ventilation for schools underpinned by the necessary funding.”