An MHK has said the gov’s policy of keeping windows open and telling students and staff to wear warm clothing as ‘not good enough’.
Tim Glover was speaking as Tynwald members quizzed Education Minister Julie Edge about face coverings and other covid measures in schools.
Mr Glover said: ‘Is the Minister seriously coming to this court today to say that the only thing we’ve learnt in an education setting in two years is to open the windows and put an extra jumper on? Because that is what it sounds like and if that is the case then it’s not good enough.’
The Arbory, Castletown and Malew MHK also asked what was happened with students who took different subjects in a different school to their main one and why sport between schools was suspended when sport is continuing in the wider community.
In response, Ms Edge said: ‘Our key priority is to keep children in schools and educated. With regards to continuing the education if they work between two schools, we are continuing that, we are going to make sure they have online opportunities instead of moving to the other school. However, if they do move to the other school, they will be expected to wear a mask and that will be enforced by the teachers and obviously the hands, face, space, fresh air. We are following public health guidance in regards to the mitigations.’
During the additional sitting, Ms Edge was also asked by Rushen MHK Dr Michelle Haywood about air purifiers in schools and the CO2 monitors.
Dr Haywood said that given the low numbers of students believed to be wearing face coverings in schools, different work was needed.
She added: ‘Is it not now the time to change strategies and install the HEPA filters, that we know do work in those small spaces. We’ve done no air flow assessments through schools, we’re propping doors open, which is against fire regulations and all of the mitigations that we have in place at the moment aren’t actually helping the problem, HEPA filters would. It has been 18 months now since we knew this, so I’d like to ask the Minister how far have we got on that? There were 23 I think when we last spoke, is that progressing at all? Because there are far more classrooms than that on the Isle of Man.’
In response Ms Edge said that fresh air to ‘key to the mitigation’ and that the schools were continuing to open windows and doors and encouraging everyone to wear warmer clothing.
The Minister added: ‘We do have HEPA filters installed, since the last time that I announced how many we have, I have asked that they are installed into our special units, where our most vulnerable students are. However, we continue to monitor the CO2 levels and the UK government, although they have announced they are introducing 7,000 HEPA filters and funding, its got criteria set around it and the levels I believe are 1,500 modules and our CO2 monitors are monitoring that, we’re working with DoI and we will install them where they are required.’