Clarity needed for schools on Hepa filters, says Gary Gannon TDGary Ibbotson 07 Dec 2021
Clarity is urgently needed on the provision of Hepa filters for schools, according to Social Democrats Education Spokesperson Gary Gannon.
Deputy Gannon was speaking after reports emerged that some schools will have to decide between installing a Hepa filter and other essential works.
“At the weekend, it was reported that a €30 million scheme was being finalised to provide air filtration units for schools,” he said.
“While the money was being provided under a minor works grant, it was reported that schools would be strongly advised to use it to improve ventilation.
“However, today we learn that schools will have to choose between Hepa filters and other essential works.
“Schools are therefore placed in an invidious position – they can either choose to prioritise ventilation or other essential works or equipment.”
Deputy Gannon said the confusion has arised from a lack of direction from the Minister of Education, Norma Foley.
“A dedicated scheme, to provide Hepa filters, should have been finalised over the summer, with units dispatched before the start of the new school term,” he says.
“Instead, we are now approaching Christmas, the incidence of covid is highest among primary school children and the Department is still trying to finalise a scheme.
“This delay and indecision is impossible to understand or defend.
“To date, schools have been reliant on parents to fund Hepa filters meaning there is an inequality when it comes to clean air in our schools.
“The scheme being finalised by the Department, means that this inequality will be perpetuated. If schools require other urgent works, they may not be able to opt to install Hepa filers as they may be compelled to prioritise other essential work.
“The nature of the scheme also means it is unclear whether post-primary schools will be able to access funding.
“We are now nearly two years into this airborne pandemic. It is long past time the Minister rolled out a dedicated fund for Hepa filters so that all schools, which need to improve ventilation, can.”