UK schools receive air quality monitors to help stop Covid spread

UK schools have received more than 300,000 air quality monitors as part of a government initiative to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in classrooms. 

The level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in a closed space is a good indicator of air quality and can signpost the need for ventilation. As the virus that causes Covid-19 is airborne, ensuring the air is properly refreshed using ventilation is crucial for reducing the spread.

The air quality monitors displays levels of CO2 with colour coding to indicate good, normal, or poor ventilation. 

Well ventilated spaces should have CO2 levels consistently below 800 parts per million (ppm), with readings above 1500ppm indicating poor ventilation or over-crowding.

Using the monitors will allow teachers to see CO2 levels in real-time as windows are opened and the air is refreshed, allowing them to balance ventilation and warmth.boy in black hoodie sitting on chair

The portability of the CO2 monitors, supplied by the Department for Education (DfE), means schools can move them around to test different areas, starting with those they suspect may be poorly ventilated.

As well as being a good indication of ventilation, lower CO2 levels have been linked to improved learning outcomes and better cogitative performance.

The researchers have also said that schools with areas that are consistently low in air quality despite ventilation should consider using air cleaners. 

Dr. Henry Burridge, co-investigator on the project from Imperial College London said: ‘CO2 monitors allow teachers to assess the ventilation in their classrooms for the first time. This is especially important during colder months when ventilation is typically lower due to colder outdoor temperatures, causing Covid-19 and other airborne diseases like the common cold and flu to linger and spread more easily.

When the project was announced in 2021, then-Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘Providing all schools with CO2 monitors will help them make sure they have the right balance of measures in place, minimising any potential disruption to education and allowing them to focus on world-class lessons and catch up for the children who need it. By keeping up simple measures such as ventilation and testing, young people can now enjoy more freedom at school and college.’

Photo by Taylor Wilcox



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2 years ago

You say these are air quality monitors, so are they measureing anything in additon to the CO2, please? This would be a good opportunity to look at whether local road fumes, farm fumes and chimney smoke are also a problem for schools.

1 year ago
Reply to  chris

What you need to consider is they were sourced as cheaply as possible from China, with fake CE marks. Built to no standards. Failure and calibration issues have meant most are useless. Someone should be held accountable!

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