August 14, 2022

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Schools are to get extra money to fund the purchase or rental of Hepa filters...

Schools are to get extra money to fund the purchase or rental of Hepa filters to help combat Covid in the classroom.
ducation Minister Norma Foley has announced grants worth €62m for primary, special education and post-primary schools.

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Primary schools will see a 50pc boost in funding to €45m in the annual minor works grant to allow for Hepa filters.
Meanwhile, post-primary schools, who don’t normally receive minor works grants, are to share a special one-off €17m fund.
Arrangements are being made for the payment of the monies to schools and detailed technical guidance on air filtration is also issuing.
The primary sector minor works grant is a combination of a base grant plus an allowance per pupil.
Under the formula, a 300-pupil school could expect €11,050, plus a 50pc top up.
A 70-pupil primary school can expect €6,610 plus 50pc top up, while a 500-pupil school can expect €14,750 plus a 50pc top up.
At post-primary, a school with up to 500 pupils will receive €20,000 while a school with more than 1,000 pupils will get €35,000.
Applications from fee charging schools will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The minor works grant is usually targeted at jobs such as window blinds, toilet upgrades, floor coverings, electrical services, purchase of furniture or equipment, or permanent ventilation works.
But the additional funding this year means that schools can invest in air filtration as well as tending to other necessary works.
Ms Foley said that given that each school setting is different individual schools were best placed to decide how best to use this funding.
Schools can make their own arrangements for the purchase or renting of filters based on the guidance.

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Not every classroom is expected to need a Hepa filter.
Ms Foley said “This significant increase in funding for schools will enable them to address both their minor works requirements and also to address small-scale ventilation improvements at school level as a short-term mitigation measure, should they require to do so.
The minister said minor works funding was important in terms of supporting the operation of schools generally and particularly within a Covid-19 environment.
She said schools may also apply for emergency works grant assistance to address larger-scale issues on a permanent basis.
The minister said the funding also provided an opportunity for schools to enhance their outdoor learning environments for use as the weather permits.
Hepa filters trap 99.97pc of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger in size.
The smallest objects that the average human eye can see are around 70 microns.
Where poor ventilation continues to exist in a particular room/area, after good ventilation practices are deployed, air cleaners are regarded as an additional measure.
The guidance says there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution.
It states that filters should not be used to fully replace ventilation and should be used in conjunction with and to support other methods of ventilation that are available.
The Department of Education will issue a circular to schools in coming days with respect to the minor works funding.
The Department said managing ventilation was just one of a suite of public health measures in place to keep schools safe.
Guidance for schools on practical steps for the deployment of good ventilation practices in schools was provided at the end of May.
That followed the work of an Expert Group that carefully considered the role of ventilation in managing Covid-19.

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