Education Minister Julie Edge said her dept has ‘no plans’ to publish data that monitors the level of CO2 in the island’s schools.
Monitoring CO2 is seen as important by health authorities as a way to monitor ventilation and prevent the spread of Covid.
Ms Edge was asked by MLC Rob Mercer what percentage of classrooms are monitored, what the average, minimum and maximum levels of CO2 are during a typical school week and if she will make the CO2 monitoring dashboard available to the public?
The Minister said: ‘Whilst the monitoring is within its pilot phase, the Department has no plans for this information to be made public. However, if the information was deemed useful in the future then this decision would be reconsidered.’
A Typical Week
Responding to the earlier part of Mr Mercer’s question, Ms Edge gave figures from the first week of November as a ‘typical’ week.
She said: ‘Using November 1 to 5 as a ‘typical’ school week, the average level of CO2 in these spaces was 558 PPM. The minimum level of CO2 was recorded as 400PPM. The maximum level of CO2 recorded was 4623 PPM.’
In a separate answer to another question from Mr Mercer, Ms Edge said that all of this information is available to school headteachers, however Gef has spoken to headteachers who told us they do not know how to access this portal.
What the UK Advises
To gain a better appreciation of these figures, Gef looked at the advice published by the Department for Education, which is for use in England only but does give a good comparison of our nearest neighbour.
That advice says: ‘A consistent value under 800ppm will show as green and does not require any action and implies that a space is particularly well ventilated. A consistent value of over 800ppm will show as amber/orange and should be seen as an early indicator to increase ventilation.
‘A consistent value over 1500ppm CO2 concentration in an occupied space is an indicator of poor ventilation. This will also be indicated by a red light on the CO2 monitors supplied by DfE. Monitors not supplied by DfE may be calibrated so that the red light comes on at a lower or higher level.
‘It is important to remember that high CO2 levels in a room are not a direct proxy for infection risk. CO2 monitors are intended to help you identify areas that are poorly ventilated, so that you can explore what steps you can take to improve ventilation. There is no need to stop using the room‘
We have submitted an FoI request for the publication of all of this data and for the Isle of Man’s DESC to publish how many monitors are in use in each educational setting.
You can read Dept for Education UK advice below: