Sunday, January 16, 2022
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HomeComment£200 million is a small price to pay for keeping our schools...

£200 million is a small price to pay for keeping our schools open and our children healthy

We have long known that ventilation has been key to helping avoid Covid-19 infection.

For all the ‘hygiene theatre’ of Transport for London and restaurants telling us they wipe down every surface and deep clean their facilities, it has long been established that airborne droplets and aerosols are the main way that Covid-19 is passed from person to person.

This makes it stranger that the government is only now putting in air filtration systems in schools, and only 7,000 machines at that. As Cllr Jasmine Ali, Southwark Council’s deputy leader and head of children, young people and education, is quoted saying in the paper this week, there are roughly 24,000 schools in the UK, and each average-sized classroom would need two.

This would cost about £200m, she thinks – relatively small change in light of the possible benefits it could bring, and the amount of money the government has spent on other things.

Southwark calls for government to put in air filters in schools across the UK to help stop Covid spread

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said that he is committed to keeping schools open. He told the BBC this week of “the painful lesson” the government had learned – that children’s mental health was substantially damaged by being out of the classroom.

That’s quite apart from the unknown physical health impact of actually getting Covid-19. Cllr Ali’s ten-year-old daughter was hospitalised with what may have been the virus at the end of the year.

As schools come back after the Christmas break this week, the government should be doing everything possible to keep children in them, and protect their mental and physical health while doing so. Ventilation is key to this, and that’s why we support the council’s calls for air filtration machines in every school.

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