Dáil debates

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh (Atógáil) - Priority Questions (Resumed)

Covid-19 Pandemic

10:30 am

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

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 overarching 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 monitors can play a part in providing a useful general indication that areas or 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 Department procured portable monitors, as recommended, and these are currently being distributed to schools at a rate of between two and 20 per school at primary school level and between 20 and 35 at post-primary school level, depending on school size, at an estimated overall cost of €4 million. The monitors are portable, simple to use and will give a digital reading. The provision of portable CO2monitors provides schools with the flexibility to focus their use on those rooms where they will be most beneficial to inform strategies for optimising ventilation in the school.

Deliveries of CO2monitors to schools commenced in the third week of August. In total, it involves over 35,000 CO2monitors being distributed to primary and post-primary schools. Some 25,000 CO2monitors have been distributed to schools. This has facilitated monitors being provided to each school with 96% of primary schools, including all special schools, having received their full allocation of CO2 monitors. Ten CO2monitors have been provided to schools at post-primary level with the balance of their allocation expected to be distributed in October. As I have said earlier, should they wish, schools have the option to purchase monitors locally rather than drawing down from the central framework. With regard to the Deputy's reference to scrimping on expenditure in schools, more than €635 million has been allocated for Covid measures within our schools in this past year, including €57 million for this first term alone. There has been no scrimping on Covid measures for the school sector.


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