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School Equipment

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 25 November 2021

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Ceisteanna (262)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

262. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education the estimated cost of one HEPA air filtration monitor. [58155/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Department’s ventilation guidance for schools is very clear and practical on the steps to be taken by all schools to manage ventilation levels.

Managing ventilation is just one of a suite of public health measures in place to keep our schools safe. Updated guidance for schools on Practical Steps for the Deployment of Good Ventilation Practices in Schools was provided at the end of May following the work of an expert group that carefully considered the role of ventilation in managing COVID-19. A copy of the guidance is published on the Gov.ie website.

The over-arching approach in the guidance is for schools to have windows open as fully as possible when classrooms are not in use and partially open when classrooms are in use.

The guidance outlines that Carbon Dioxide (CO2) monitors can play a part in providing a useful general indication that areas/rooms may not be adequately ventilated. They can enable occupants to become familiar with the impacts of activities, outdoor weather and window openings on levels of good ventilation. The provision of portable CO2 monitors provides schools with the flexibility to focus their use to those rooms where most beneficial to inform strategies for optimising ventilation in the school.

Schools that identify inadequate ventilation in a room can utilise their minor work grant (for minor improvements) or apply for emergency works grant assistance to address ventilation enhancements on a permanent basis. It is important to bear in mind there is no one remedy that fits all circumstances, each requires an evaluation to determine the appropriate solution specific to the school.

A dedicated team has been established in the Department to support schools that may have concerns about ventilation.

Officers are also available to contact schools where required, walking through the steps the schools should take to deploy good ventilation practices etc.

Where it is not possible for a school to access the expertise of an engineer or architect, and where necessary, a technical assessment to assist the school can be facilitated through the Department.

Where the above measures have been undertaken, and poor ventilation continues to exist in a particular room/area, air cleaners may be considered as an additional measure in conjunction with other methods of ventilation that are available. There is no one solution that fits all scenarios, each application requires bespoke analysis and selection of the appropriate unit(s) matched to the specific room size and volume. As such, the cost of works needed may vary. If, following consultation with a supplier a school feels that its individual space may require specific technical specialist advice then the assistance of a Chartered Engineer or Registered Architect can be sought.

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