Air pollution monitoring for schools in Wales delayed by ‘supply chain downtime’
The clean air technologies promised for schools in Wales have been delayed and for some may not materialize until well after the half-year.
In a letter from WalesOnline, Education Secretary Jeremy Miles attributed the delay in delivering carbon monitors to supply chain delays. He had previously said that the CO2 monitors would be delivered to schools in the first week of October.
But the monitors are now due to be delivered to local authorities on October 13-14, while officials are working with suppliers to fully deploy the monitors by mid-November, the minister said in a letter to the apprenticeship unions.
Continue reading : More than 10,000 children missed school last week in Wales due to Covid reasons
CO2 monitors are known as “canaries in a coal mine” because they warn when there is not enough fresh air in a room.
The news came when school principals, teachers and school staff from across Wales called on the Welsh government to strengthen Covid security in schools following an inter-union meeting. Hundreds of school workers gathered on October 7th for the Wales TUC’s Keeping Schools Safe and Open event.
The TUC said all education unions agreed with the Welsh government that continuous learning in schools should be a priority. However, they are pushing for greater containment measures to protect staff and students, and to keep the school running.
There have been more than 10,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the schools this school year since they returned to reopen with fewer infection control measures, as per revised guidelines from the Welsh Government.
School principals have warned that more students and staff will be vacant than ever during the pandemic and that education is more disrupted than it was last year.
In a letter to answer a number of questions from unions on safety and learning in schools, the minister said: “A sectoral working group has developed clear guidelines for the use of carbon monitors in educational institutions.
“The final draft of the guide has been noted by the working group and is currently being translated.
“The guidelines will be issued to the sector with the first shipment of CO2 monitors. These are due to be delivered to the local authorities on October 13th and 14th, a week later than originally expected due to logistical problems in the supply chain.
“Officials are working closely with the supplier to ensure that the monitors are fully rolled out by mid-November.”
The Welsh government has announced that it will spend £ 2.58 million to buy carbon monitors for all educational institutions in Wales. one for each classroom.
The monitors are intended to help schools, colleges and universities to identify areas with poor ventilation.
According to the Welsh Government’s Covid Framework, local authorities are required to work with schools that carry out risk assessments. This includes identifying and correcting faulty ventilation, including improperly functioning windows and mechanical ventilation systems. C02 monitors would help with this.
Laura Doel, director of the National Association of Headteachers Cymru, described the delay as frustrating and said the monitors would be “a £ 3 million waste of time” unless they had money to fix and broken and not working ventilation in the schools .
Suggested actions that apprenticeships want to see are:
- A review of current framework risk levels and mitigation for schools to determine if more stringent measures are needed to keep children in school, such as:
- Clear guidelines on expectations for schools to support learners at home during self-isolation or class / school closings.
- Clear guidance for schools on how to use CO2 monitors and a clear strategy for dealing with poor ventilation problems when they arise. This should include funding to address any significant ventilation problems identified.
- Clear commitment to funding employee absenteeism related to Covid-19, including coverage for caregiver employees, employees 28 weeks pregnant, and employees who need to self-isolate.
- Fund any measures needed to contain the spread of Covid-19 – including any work to ensure windows can be opened, HEPA filters and the use of individual risk assessments.
- Increase the capacity of the TTP system to provide schools with adequate contact tracing support.
- Review all TTP guidelines and ensure consistency in the system across all local health authorities.
Shavanah Taj, Wales TUC General Secretary, said: “The entire school workforce agrees that measures need to be stepped up across Wales to keep schools open.
“Teachers, teaching assistants, principals and support staff are scared, overworked and exhausted. The Welsh Government needs to listen to them and recognize that they are the experts on what goes on in schools. “
The Welsh Government has been asked for an opinion.
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