Welsh government investing nearly £6m in technology to improve air quality in classrooms
New technology to improve air quality in the education setting in Wales has been announced.
As pupils prepare to return to classrooms, the Welsh government said it is to fund more than 1,800 ozone disinfecting machines and over 30,000 CO2 sensors for schools, colleges and universities throughout Wales.
The new investment in technology will improve air quality and quickly disinfect classrooms, lecture theatres and workshops.
£3.31m is being spent on ozone disinfecting machines, these will reduce cleaning times, improve disinfection and reduce costs.
The funding is expected to supply more than 1,800 machines, at least one for every school, college and university in Wales.
The time and cost of cleaning rooms was identified as an issue for schools and colleges early in the pandemic.
To address the issue, the Welsh Government asked Swansea University to establish an Ozone Classroom Decontamination Project, backed by Welsh Government funding. Scientists at the university have developed an Ozone disinfecting machine, now in production, which can be deployed for this task.
The machines can be used to quickly disinfect classrooms when clusters of Covid-19 or other communicable viruses are identified, such as norovirus.
£2.58 m will be provided for over 30,000 CO2 ‘traffic light’ monitors, for teaching and learning spaces such as classrooms, seminar rooms or lecture halls.
CO2 monitors include sensors which provide a visual signal of deteriorating internal air quality.
The monitors will alert teachers and lecturers when CO2 levels rise, notifying them when air quality needs to improve, thereby aiding the control of ventilation during the winter.
This will help maintain comfortable temperatures for learners and staff during colder periods, reduce heat loss and save on energy costs.
Dr Chedly Tizaoui of Swansea University, part of the team who designed the ozone disinfection machine, said:
“I am delighted that the ozone technology we developed at Swansea University will support efforts to eradicate Covid-19 in Wales. ”
“Reducing the spread of coronavirus in our educational institutions is vitally important, so our children and students can get back to the classroom.”
“Ozone is potent against Covid-19 virus and due to its gaseous nature, it kills the virus whether be it airborne or adhered to a surface.”
“Thanks to the support received from the Welsh Government and the Active Buildings pioneered by SPECIFIC, our research demonstrated that buildings can be Active on the inside and the ozone treatment developed here can be incorporated to support cleaning and disinfection of public buildings.”
The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, said:
“I’m pleased learners can return to classrooms and lecture theatres this autumn with fewer restrictions in place than there have been for several months.”
“This investment in CO2 monitors will help improve air quality, while the disinfecting machines will enable classrooms to return to normal use quicker.”
“This supports our common goal of ensuring learners can continue learning together with their teachers and friends.”
“But we must keep our guard up against Covid-19. These measures will complement, rather than replace our current advice – which includes ensuring hygiene is maintained, and washing hands thoroughly and more often than usual.”
Plaid Cymru said air quality monitoring in classrooms was “long overdue” but raised questions over “controversial” ozone disinfecting machines
Their education spokesperson Sian Gwenllian MS said: “Scientific advice has long highlighted the importance of air quality in limiting coronavirus transmission – and we’ve been calling for more guidance and resources for schools colleges and universities on the subject of ventilation since last year.
“The provision of CO2 monitors to educational settings, while long overdue, is welcome, and is in line with other nations.”
“It’s important that measures we use are in line with the latest scientific guidance and I urge Welsh Government to provide reassurance to educational settings on the use of devices such as ozone disinfectant systems.”
“The use of ozone disinfecting machines is controversial to say the least and we all need to be satisfied that Welsh Government is absolutely certain that they are a safe option before introducing them.”
[Photo: Ysgol Penyffordd/Wynne Construction]
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