In a move to improve school ventilation and potentially reduce COVID-19 outbreaks among the students, schools across England will receive about 300,000 carbon dioxide detectors that will identify classrooms with poor air quality.
According to the country's Department of Education, the distribution of the portable carbon dioxide detectors will be done before the start of the new school year this fall. The initial number is a partial allocation with the Education Department to roll out more equipment for the rest of the school year.
Teachers in England have been asking for the detectors, especially when classroom windows and doors have to be kept closed in the colder season, affecting the air quality. Experts say that proper ventilation doesn't transmit the virus faster; hence, outdoor activities are encouraged instead of indoors.
Once the schools have their allocated equipment, they will also receive new guidance on the monitor's use.
Pilot Program for 30 Schools
Along with the rollout, the department will closely monitor the 30 public schools included in the pilot program to determine if this initiative works. The Department of Education has already identified these schools with poor ventilation and vulnerable students.
"Providing all schools with CO2 monitors will help them make sure they have the right balance of measures in place," said Secretary Gavin Williamson. The hope is that the initiative will prevent class disruptions or school closures due to an outbreak so that the children can experience the full benefits of in-person classes.
However, many school officials agree that this is not the only solution to stop COVID-19 transmissions as kids returning to classes remain unvaccinated. But the monitors will allow schools to "act quickly" if there are classrooms with ventilation problems.
However, some officials wonder what will happen next once the monitors do indicate that the air quality in particular classrooms needs to be improved. The Department of Education has yet to indicate where funding will come from if schools need to replace their windows or airflow system.
The department plans to spend over $34 million on the carbon dioxide detectors, while almost $3 million will be spent on the pilot program. One official said that England must follow America, which conducted an audit of public school classrooms and facilitated the necessary repair work.
The Education Department said that more details would be unveiled once procurement of the carbon dioxide detectors has been completed.
Vaccination of School Kids
Meanwhile, the youngest age for vaccine eligibility in England is 16 years old. Kids aged 12 to 15 may also be vaccinated if they have Down's syndrome, severely weakened immune systems, neuro-disability, and multiple learning disabilities.
Plans are still in the works to include children between the ages of 12 to 15 in the vaccination program. The children will be given a Pfizer jab if approved, as this is the only approved vaccine for the younger population. On the other hand, kids under 12 might have to wait longer for their vaccination; thus, the country has been looking at other options to protect the children going back to school.
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