County Councillors Jayne Rear and Michael Green with ventilation equipment for schools-2

Schools to receive new ventilation equipment thanks to £150k county council investment

Air cleaning units are being deployed to schools in Lancashire after the county council stepped in to ease the pressure caused by the large number of Omicron cases.

Last year, the Department for Education (DfE) created a programme to supply special schools with free carbon dioxide monitors (CO2) and air cleaning units.

CO2 monitors help education settings to identify poor ventilation so they can improve it and reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.

On Monday, the government announced it will deliver up to 9,000 air cleaning units to early years, schools and colleges across the country to improve ventilation in classrooms.

Prior to this announcement, Lancashire County Council decided to build on the national programme to widen it to all schools, committing around £150,000 to the initiative.

Thanks to this positive action, schools in Lancashire can now request carbon dioxide monitors and air cleaning units, while waiting for the national scheme to catch-up.

County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "Being in the classroom is undoubtedly the best place for children.

"Face-to-face learning is so important for their education and wellbeing, which is why we decided to take additional positive actions to support our schools.

"We now know the importance of keeping teaching spaces well ventilated, and this equipment will help more schools do that and enable them to keep more children safely in the classroom."

As part of the local initiative, the county council has purchased 1,000 carbon dioxide monitors to supply to any school in the county council area.

Schools can use the carbon dioxide monitors to monitor their CO2 levels and if they can demonstrate there is an issue then they will be supplied a temporary air cleaning unit.

In addition, 110 air cleaning units have been purchased to act as a temporary support for schools that were not able to address their carbon dioxide levels by simple ventilation changes.

Cllr Green and County Councillor Jayne Rear, cabinet member for education and skills, visited Lancashire Business Park in Farington, near Leyland, this week to view the air cleaning units, following a bumper delivery.

So far, 10 have been distributed to a number of schools and nurseries, with 100 now ready to be sent out to education settings across the county.

Looking ahead, the county council is also looking at recruiting extra engineers to help identify medium and long-term solutions for schools.

Cllr Rear said: "Schools have been working flat out to manage cases of Covid-19 while trying to keep as many children in school as possible for face-to-face education.

"School staff are doing an incredible job under extremely difficult circumstances, as they have done throughout the pandemic.

"We will continue to do everything in our power to support schools to keep children safe and minimise disruption to education."

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council, said: "Infection rates remain high across the county, particularly among primary school age children and under 5s, who do not have the protection of the vaccine.

"This is having a significant impact on staff absence rates in our schools and is leading to further disruption to children's education.

"Staff are working so hard to keep as many children in school as possible, and they need parents to work with them so Covid is kept outside the school gates."