Continuing to keep students safe

Sarah Courtney,Minister for Education

The Department of Education is working closely with Public Health as we prepare for the return of students to school on February 9.

The Department is currently implementing a range of measures in schools including natural ventilation improvements, air purifiers, enhancing outdoor learning and additional cleaning arrangements to ensure the safety of students.

This included the Department undertaking an assessment of external school windows.

The intent of this was to inform window repair works that needed to be undertaken to improve ventilation at our schools, with the majority of work to be completed prior to school recommencing in Term 1.

Maintenance contractors undertook site by site inspections and identified repairs needed and relayed that to the Department as assessments occurred.

I am advised that of the 12,329 perimeter rooms in schools, 2,614 rooms required repairs, with a total of 8,018 windows requiring a repair.

The bulk of this work will occur while schools are closed for the summer break, and it is now underway with the majority of repairs to be completed before the commencement of Term 1.

1,000 air purifiers have been received by the Department, with more than 800 already delivered to schools and further air purifiers will be received and distributed before the start of term, with a further 3,500 to be received before the start of Term 1.

Air purifiers will be available to use in learning areas where natural ventilation isn’t adequate.

This followed work undertaken earlier last year, collecting amenity information including heating, cooling and ventilation data on every department-owned building, which was used to update the Department’s Asset Management System.

These building works and procurement of air purifiers complements the measures already being implemented in schools such as social distancing, hand hygiene practices and additional cleaning of school sites.

In addition, I’m advised that AHPPC is currently preparing advice for National Cabinet to look at forming a national position and a national view in terms of school reopening.

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