Study will investigate whether air cleaners reduce Covid-19 in schools

A new study will investigate the feasibility of using air cleaners to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in primary schools. 

The study is investigating two different approaches to cleaning the air with the use of portable or wall-mounted devices. 

One is based on filtering the air by passing it through a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter which captures most airborne viruses. 

The second approach involves cycling the air through an enclosed unit where it is exposed to ultraviolet light which inactivates microorganisms including viruses. 

The two technologies have been widely used in other settings and are regarded as safe.  

Based on the outcome of modelling, the scientists involved have said they’re confident the technologies will reduce the risk of Covid-19 being spread through aerosol transmission. 

2 boys and girl sitting on chair

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: ‘The study reflects our commitment to keeping students in the classroom, in a way that is as safe as possible. Studies like this one will also improve our long-term preparedness to protect children from future diseases.’

The £18.5m investigation is being funded by the Department for Health and Social Care and led by Professor Mark Mon-Williams at the University of Leeds, he said: ‘Research has suggested that children have lost as much as half a year of schooling because of the disruption caused by the pandemic.

‘There is an urgent need to identify technologies that could be adopted by schools to try and stop the spread of Covid-19. We know that good ventilation can help disperse the aerosols that can cause infection, but in busy classrooms, ventilation alone will not be enough.

‘Environmental technology offers a potential solution – it will enable schools to operate as normal as possible and hopefully reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading among pupils.’

Matthew Langley, headteacher at  Bowling Park Primary School in Bradford added: ‘Good attendance is key to children being successful at school. As for many schools, Covid-19 caused huge disruption to Bowling Park Primary School.

‘We are delighted to be part of this pilot study. All our classrooms are now fitted with air filters designed to remove airborne viruses and improve air quality for children and staff. It feels like a real step forward for us as we return to normal and try to make school as safe, consistent and positive for all our children, families and staff.’




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