The Queensland Education Minister has said there won’t be a big problem with ventilation in classrooms when school resumes next year.
- Grace Grace says she doesn’t think there is a big ventilation problem in schools but that the problem is taken seriously
- Guidelines for school ventilation will be released by December 17
- Queensland Health said employers in schools should determine ventilation plans based on national advice
Grace Grace’s remarks come despite the installation of tens of thousands of air purifiers in classrooms by the governments of the Victorian era and New South Wales, in addition to using dioxide monitors of carbon to identify ventilation problems.
Concerns over the transmission of COVID-19 in classrooms have rekindled in an unknown time frame for when children under 12 will be eligible for the vaccine and expectations of widespread community transmission with open borders.
Schools determine ventilation plans
The Queensland government this week issued a mandate to vaccinate all staff in schools, kindergartens and daycares.
Ms Grace said guidance on ventilation strategies would be released by Dec. 17, when the state border reopens.
Queensland Health said that while they had established ventilation standards for hotel quarantine facilities, given their nature, “employers of other establishments, including schools and offices, should determine the plans breakdown according to national councils and their specific circumstances “.
It follows a teacher in Brisbane recording CO2 levels – a ventilation indicator – more than four times the recommended level, as revealed by ABC Radio Brisbane.
When asked if classroom ventilation was an issue that needed to be addressed, Ms Grace said she didn’t think “this is a big ventilation issue”.
We joke that it’s fine, according to an air quality expert
Atmospheric scientist Distinguished Professor Lidia Morawska said this was a problem.
“Unless we measure what the ventilation is, we don’t know what the problem is, we don’t know where the problem is,” she said.
Professor Morawska called for CO2 monitors to be used in full classrooms, full time or on rotation, to determine risks.
Ms Grace said her department had created a task force spanning public and non-government schools to review ventilation strategies and advice from other states.
“He has received advice and we are still following the health advice of Queensland Health, Safe Work Australia, World Health Organization, Doherty Institute, QUT, and we are also in close contact with action taken in to other states and territories, “Education Minister said.
Based on that advice, Ms Grace said ventilation guidelines would be released by December 17.
Divide ventilation best practices
The Education Ministry said ventilation plans include opening windows and turning on fans, ensuring all air conditioners are serviced and maintained, and cleaning by trained personnel.
However, some fear that the government’s installation of air conditioners has seen windows closed and fans removed, which could prevent measures to improve natural air circulation.
Ms Grace said there were only 24 schools left to be “fully air conditioned” from the Cooler Cleaner Schools program which “have fresh air coming into the systems we have installed.”
But Prof Morawska said air conditioners alone do not solve ventilation problems, and without audits, just relying on air conditioning or opening windows and using fans does not prove that there is safe ventilation.
Ms Grace acknowledges that the issue has been taken seriously, but points out that “we are not like New South Wales and Victoria” with active cases in the community “so we have time to determine what exactly is needed “.
A spokesperson for Queensland Health said the department “agrees that ventilation controls may be relevant in high-risk indoor environments such as schools, residential facilities for the elderly, dormitories, correctional facilities and other places. working “.
The spokesperson said the department supported the advice of the Australian Main Committee for Health Protection (AHPPC) and Safe Work Australia regarding ventilation, but could not substitute for other prevention and control measures. .
Opposition calls for clarity
LNP education spokesperson Dr Christian Rowan said parents and caregivers have expressed genuine concerns about ventilation issues in their children’s schools, but it’s been a two-month wait.
“It is the minister’s responsibility to address these concerns now and to give parents and guardians the information and reassurance they need,” he said.
“At no time before has it been more essential to provide clear and concise information than during this pandemic.”
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