Covid air filters for all classrooms half the cost of PM’s Royal Yacht

The Liberal Democrats estimate that putting an air purifier in every classroom in England would cost around £140 million, around half the price of Boris Johnson’s pet project – the new £250 million Royal Yacht.

The cost would also be a fraction of Government expenditure on a botched Test and Trace system and dodgy PPE contracts.

At present, Government guidance suggests that teachers should open external windows and internal doors to improve “natural ventilation” and schools “should balance the need for increased ventilation while maintaining a comfortable temperature” – difficult to do during the cold winter months.

With criminal record checks acting as a brake on moves to get retired teachers to return to the classrooms, and barely half of teenagers yet to receive one jab, the dangers of schools remaining closed at the beginning of January are acute.

Instead of a proper solution – purifying the air – the Department for Education has made CO2 monitors their target. While the monitors give useful information on where more air flow is needed, they do not fix the problem in themselves – especially when it is cold outside and opening a window does not solve the issue.

To add insult to injury, the DfE has opened a “market place” for Dyson purifiers that are six times the price of others on the market. But the DfE has still not agreed to pay for them.

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, Munira Wilson MP, said: “Failure to act right now will fail our children in the future. The Government has a week to solve this, otherwise pupils will be left out in the cold and missing out on vital learning once again.

Munira Wilson

“Whether it’s ineffective CO2 monitors or pitiful catch-up funding, this is a Government that has time and time again wholesale abdicated their responsibility to our children, failing to make their education a priority and falling short with a plan for keeping our schools open.

“Teacher absences and school closures at the end of the Autumn term provided the clearest warning that Boris Johnson’s Government needed to show leadership and take urgent action. They have failed with all hands on all fronts.

“It is only a year ago that Gavin Williamson presided over the greatest superspreader event of the year, by sending our children back to school for one day then shutting them out. We must avoid a repeat of that fiasco at all costs.

“Nadhim Zahawi gave a cast-iron guarantee that schools would stay open. Unless he gets a grip on this quickly, he will be adding to the countless broken promises from this Government. Worse still, he will be breaking a promise to all our children.”

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