Written answers

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Department of Education and Skills

School Facilities

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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85. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools that have received funding for ventilation works per county to date in 2021, in tabular form. [59542/21]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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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 over-arching 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 Department's guidance outlines CO2monitors can play a part in providing a useful general indication that areas/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 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.

In excess of 35,400 monitors were delivered to schools nationwide at a cost of circa €4 million which assists in guiding their ventilation strategy.

A dedicated team has been established in the Department to support schools that may have concerns about ventilation. Officers are also available to contact schools where required, walking through the steps the schools should take to deploy good ventilation practices etc. Schools that identify inadequate ventilation in a room can utilise their minor work grant (for minor improvements) or apply for emergency works grant assistance to address ventilation enhancements on a permanent basis. There is no one solution that fits all scenarios, each application for emergency works requires bespoke analysis.

My Department's approach on good ventilation in schools, as part of a layered strategy of protective measures to control the spread of the virus, is fully consistent with Public Health advice and the Expert Group recommendations on good practices, the use of portable CO2monitors and the targeted deployment of HEPA air filter devices where necessary for poorly ventilated areas.

There are a number of options for schools who wish to apply for capital funding towards ventilation works in their school buildings including the Emergency Works Scheme and on a more planned basis as part of the Summer Works scheme. Ventilation works generally forms part of many capital works projects.

Under the Emergency Works Scheme a small number of applications have been received to date which specifically requested funding for work relating to ventilation issues.

To date in 2021 14 schools have applied for additional funding under the emergency works scheme to assist with ventilation. Of these, 10 have been approved, one was returned to the school to review the scope of works, one is being assessed and two were found to be not ventilation related. Of these 10 approvals 4 were in Dublin, 3 in Tipperary, 2 in Cork and 1 in Kerry as set out below.

These are collated by county in the table below.

County Number of Approvals
Cork 2
Dublin 4
Kerry 1
Tipperary 3

My Department remains available to assist any other schools that have ventilation issues to be addressed.


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