Written answers

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Department of Education and Skills

School Equipment

Photo of Sorca ClarkeSorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein)
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121. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if a cost-benefit analysis has been conducted on the installation of air filtration systems in primary schools throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [62376/21]

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.

The Department’s ventilation guidance for schools is very clear and practical on the steps to be taken by all schools to manage ventilation levels.

The over-arching approach is ventilation first with the guidance 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 has not undertaken a cost analysis regarding the installation of air filtration systems. The focus of the Department has been providing support to schools in applying public health advice with respect to the role of ventilation in managing COVID-19.

The Department's Guidance is clear that where the recommended measures in the Practical Steps and poor ventilation continues to exist in a particular room/area, air cleaners may be considered as an additional measure in conjunction with other methods of ventilation that are available. This is line with Expert Group guidance which identifies that in areas with poor ventilation that structural interventions and measures to increase natural ventilation should be completed. Where such structural interventions or measures are not possible in the short term, that consideration should be given to using stand-alone HEPA filter devices in poorly ventilated spaces pending the completion of structural interventions.

There is no one solution that fits all scenarios, each application requires bespoke analysis and selection of the appropriate unit(s) matched to the specific room size and volume. If, following consultation with a supplier a school feels that its individual space may require specific technical specialist advice then the assistance of a Chartered Engineer or Registered Architect can be sought.

The requirement for air cleaners in schools will depend on advices provided to schools by their Architect/Engineer.

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.


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