CO2 monitors: Frustration grows over slow roll-out

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

With the end of term in sight, less than half of the government’s promised 300,000-plus CO2 monitors have been delivered to schools.

As of October 29, there had been 144,723 CO2 monitors delivered to state-funded education settings, including early years, schools, and further education providers (DfE, 2021).

However, there is no clarity on exactly how many schools have received monitors to date and how many are still waiting for their first delivery.

The slow roll-out has echoes of the laptop debacle this time last year when high-profile public announcements then took months to deliver.

Back in August, the Department for Education said it would spend £25m on more than 300,000 CO2 monitors to be made available “over the autumn term” to help schools identify the indoor spaces where ventilation is poor.

Improving air quality and ventilation in classroom spaces is just as important as social distancing and hand-washing in preventing Covid transmission, doctors have repeatedly told schools.

The DfE states: “Letting fresh air into indoor spaces can help remove air that contains virus particles and is important in preventing the spread of Covid-19.

“The new monitors enable staff to identify areas where ventilation needs to be improved and provide reassurance that existing ventilation measures are working, helping balance the need for good ventilation with keeping classrooms warm.”

However, as the weather turns colder and keeping the windows open becomes more and more complicated, frustrated school leaders have called for more action on ventilation in schools and for a faster roll-out of the monitors.

James Bowen, director of policy at the National Association of Head Teachers, is less than impressed.

Responding to the latest CO2 monitor delivery statistics this week, he said: “These latest figures show that less than half the CO2 monitors the government has said it will send to schools have been delivered to date. We still have no data on how many individual schools have actually received the monitors and how many are still waiting.

“We are certainly hearing from schools that have not received any yet, despite the policy being announced back in August. Given how important good ventilation is, it is vitally important that these devices get out to all schools as quickly as possible.”

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