Sheffield’s Senior Councillor for Education, Children and Families, Jayne Dunn, is renewing her calls for government to take urgent action on ventilation for schools.
3000 children were absent from school in Sheffield last week due to Covid related issues, as well as many members of staff.
Labour has criticised government for being too slow to act and have consistently called on the Education Secretary to finally deliver the ventilation needed to support schools prevent transmission within classrooms.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) first highlighted the importance of ventilation in schools to government in May 2020, but 20 months on they have failed to act on this advice. Pilot trials of air purifiers in classrooms will not deliver a final report until October 2022.
Labour Councillor Jayne Dunn, Sheffield’s Co-Operative Member for Education, Children and Families:
“At a local level we are doing everything we can to support our schools and limit the transmission of Covid. We have been quick to act on public health advice and have consistently been ahead of the government in providing advice and support. I strongly recommended the use of face masks for secondary schools way back in August, whereas government took months to ask schools to do this.
“I think we all recognise the importance of continuing face-to-face education wherever possible and I commend the work of school staff in delivering this – with mask wearing, regular testing, and doing what they can to ventilate.
“It is well established that proper ventilation halves the spread of transmission. Yet government are sitting on their hands and not helping schools. An open window is as good as it can get for many schools, and often that’s not even possible.
“It is outrageous that, in the middle of winter, schools are being left with no option but to open windows just to get adequate ventilation. Sheffield schools and the council are working incredibly hard to support children, but the government is again treating them as an afterthought”.
As well as writing to the Secretary of State to ask for greater support for Sheffield schools to fit proper ventilation systems, Councillor Dunn has also stated her support for education Unions in their ask that schools hold staff meetings virtually where appropriate.