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NEWS: Education settings in England to receive air quality monitors

On Saturday 21 August the government announced £25 million funding for education settings in England to receive carbon dioxide monitors from September. These portable monitors will allow settings to assess the air quality in different areas and identify where ventilation is poor. Alongside this the Department for Education (DfE) will be issuing more guidance on steps settings can take to improve ventilation where necessary.

The funding for monitors is being allocated to all “state-funded education settings” which includes PVI nurseries and pre-schools. PACEY believes that registered childminders should also be included on this definition, as they provide state-funded early education in the same way that nurseries and pre-schools do.

Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of PACEY said:

“This is a welcome step, given the impact good ventilation and air flow has in reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission. We believe that our registered childminders members are in need of this support to help reduce the risk of transmission in their settings just as much as our nursery and pre-school members. We have already made this clear to the Department for Education and we are now waiting for their clarification on whether this will be the case. We will also be seeking to input to the revised guidance on ventilation so that it is as supportive and relevant to all types of early years and childcare setting.”

The monitors will be distributed from the start of the new term, with special schools and alternative provision prioritised first (as they have a larger number of vulnerable pupils who are at higher risk from coronavirus). Alongside this, the government is trialling air purifiers in 30 schools in Bradford to test the impact of these on improving air quality.

As well taking measures to improve ventilation, DfE is encouraging settings in England to continue with twice weekly asymptomatic testing. Early years and childcare settings should already have these measures outlined in their coronavirus risk assessments. We have produced sample and template risk assessments available to PACEY members here.

PACEY members in Wales can access guidance on ventilation in the recently updated Guidance for childcare and playwork: coronavirus, which  is reflected in our Wales FAQs.