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Covid air filters for all classrooms in England would cost half the royal yacht | Schools

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England could add an air purifier to every classroom for half the price of the new royal yacht, a move scientists and activists say would make a significant difference in the spread of Covid in schools.

The move would cost around £ 140million, according to the Liberal Democrats’ calculations. Government sources said there would be no delay for the start of the school year, despite the increase in Omicron cases, and that any further restrictions would not include closing classrooms.

However, schools have warned that a high number of teacher absences due to self-isolation could force them to send entire year groups home. Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has called on retired teachers or those who have left the profession to help fill in the gaps.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told the Telegraph that classroom closures could occur if schools have no other alternative.

“If you have a fixed pool of people who can teach young people, the only last resort for schools and colleges is to start thinking about certain age groups that should be prioritized in the short term.”

Government guidelines currently suggest that teachers should open exterior windows and interior doors to improve “natural ventilation” and schools “should balance the need for increased ventilation while maintaining a comfortable temperature” – although the opening windows is probably more difficult when schools return in cold weather. January temperatures.

Liberian MP Munira Wilson, the party’s education spokeswoman, said the government’s advice to use CO2 monitors was less effective – giving information on where more airflow is needed but not affecting the flow itself.

School leaders also criticized the cost of the government’s preferred supplier for air filters – one of the units, made by Camfil City M, costs £ 1,170 and a Dyson model costs £ 424.82.

Wilson said schools shouldn’t be paying for units at all. “Failure to act now will fail our children in the future. The government has a week to fix this problem, otherwise students will be left behind and miss out on life-saving learning again, ”she said.

“Nadhim Zahawi gave an absolute guarantee that the schools would remain open. Unless he quickly understands this, he will add to the countless broken promises of this government. Worse yet, it will break a promise made to all of our children.

In October 2020, the German government invested £ 452million in improving ventilation systems in public buildings, including schools, including upgrading air conditioning systems and air purifiers, described by the then Chancellor Angela Merkel as “one of the cheapest and most effective ways” to combat spread of covid.

New York City has also undertaken extensive ventilation surveys and distributed approximately 100,000 HEPA air purifiers.

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