Written answers

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Department of Education and Skills

School Equipment

Photo of Gary GannonGary Gannon (Dublin Central, Social Democrats)
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71. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide a CO2 monitor to each ASD classroom in the country; the estimated cost for this provision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48738/21]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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Good ventilation was identified as an important aspect of public health advice on managing Covid-19 risks and this led to the establishment of an Expert Group by the Department of Health. A sub-group of the main Expert Group focussed exclusively on the issue of improving and monitoring ventilation in schools. A copy of the guidance is published on the Gov.ie website.

This report formed the based for the most recent updating of the ventilation guidance for schools and included recommendations in relation to strengthening the message about the importance of good ventilation and the use of CO2monitors.

My Department arranged for the provision of a number of portable CO2monitors based on the approximate size of each school. The use of CO2monitors can provide a useful general indication that areas/rooms within a building may not be adequately ventilated and can enable occupants to become familiar with the impact that activities, outdoor weather and window openings have on levels of good ventilation within a room. This information can be used to inform strategies for improving ventilation. The portable units can facilitate measurements in a wide range of locations in schools including ASD classrooms.

Deliveries of CO2 monitors 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 with an estimated cost of €4 million. Over 28,000 CO2monitors have been distributed to schools to date, meaning that CO2 monitors have been delivered to each school in the country. The monitors are portable, simple to use, and will give a digital reading.

96% of primary schools (including all special schools) have received their full allocation of CO2 monitors. Ten CO2monitors have been provided to schools at post-primary level with the balance of their allocation to be distributed this month.

My Department arranged for the provision of a number of portable CO2monitors based on the approximate size of each school. The mechanism for determining the approximate size of the primary school was the number of mainstream classrooms in the school.

The number of CO2 monitors provided to each school was then determined using the following bands:

Primary Schools (Classrooms) Monitors per school
Primary Schools (Classrooms) Monitors per school
1 classroom 2
2 to 4 Classrooms 3
5 to 8 5
9 to 12 7
13 to 16 9
17 to 20 11
21 to 24 13
25 to 30 17
31+ 20
Special Schools Monitors per school
Special Schools 10
Secondary Schools (Free Scheme) enrolment bands Monitors per school
<500 20
501 to 750 25
751 to 1000 30
1001+ 35

The provision of portable CO2monitors provides schools with the flexibility to focus their use to those rooms where most beneficial to inform strategies for optimising ventilation in the school. CO2measurements are a less reliable measure of ventilation performance in single or low occupancy spaces or in very large spaces (SAGE UK, 2020, AIVC, 2021).

Where an individual schools identifies an additional need, the Department has put in place a mechanism in place for schools to request additional monitors through a dedicated helpline and email account.

The Department has received a small number of such requests to date, which will be considered and processed after the completion of the distribution of 35,000 monitors referred to above.


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