A Gedling councillor has voiced his fears over the small supply of air purifiers available to UK schools to help stop the spread of Covid in classrooms.
Gedling Borough Council cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing Henry Wheeler fears Gedling schools will struggle to compete for a limited supply of ventilation filters.
Responding to the education secretary’s announcement on (Sunday, January 2) introducing further Covid safety measures for schools in England.
Councillor Wheeler said: “Providing 7,000 ventilation filters for England’s schools is a helpful step. But with over 20,000 schools – many with dozens of classrooms – this won’t even scratch the surface”.
“There is potentially a big problem here as schools in Gedling will have to compete in an online market with thousands of other schools across England, bidding to get ventilators with no guarantee of getting one”.
“Also the ventilators won’t be delivered until next month. This means children could potentially end up being taught in cold classrooms with coats on, as schools try to balance Covid prevention measures with windows open for ventilation whilst also trying to keep classrooms warm.”
“Once again this seems like a rushed last-minute announcement to try and give the appearance of doing something on a big issue when action should have been taken before the Christmas holiday period”.
“Schools need to be kept open and we need to do everything we can to make schools healthy safe places to learn”. “Whilst at the same time ensuring children and young peoples emotional health and wellbeing is prioritised by minimising disruption and providing proper support”.
“Seven thousand more air purifiers is something, but it is completely inadequate for what should be a basic human right, the provision of clean air in every classroom in every educational setting”.
“Also the Government’s new measures for schools don’t address the need for extra funding to meet additional costs to schools, such as paying for agency cover when staff are off sick or isolating.”
“Nor do they tackle the additional workload for those who’re able to work, or ensure staff working for private contractors are given full sick pay when they need to isolate.”
Councillor Henry Wheeler says he has now written to Tom Randall MP, asking what guarantees can be given that schools in Gedling will be able to access ventilators to help stop the spread of Covid.