A LOCAL teaching union has criticised the Government for its “slow” rollout of carbon dioxide monitors in every school in the country.

Ian Murch, president of the Bradford branch of the National Education Union, said so far only special schools in the district have received the monitors despite the rollout beginning in September.

The Government said the rollout of monitors is “on track” and that all schools will get their devices by the end of the Autumn term - in December.

Carbon dioxide monitors are being distributed so that schools can monitor airflow in classrooms to ensure that they are well ventilated to reduce the risk of the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Murch said the pressing issue in schools currently is the lack of carbon dioxide monitors, and rising case numbers in Bradford’s schools

He said: “The deliveries of these devices has been slow, they were all meant to be here in October but that doesn’t look likely now, there’s only a handful of them here.

“We were told they’d be here this term; we thought that would be the start of term but clearly not.

“Currently schools can open doors and windows to ventilate but as the weather gets colder it’s harder to keep them open, so these devices are useful to keep air flowing.”

Case numbers in schools have been rising since children returned for the new term, and Mr Murch said the peak has not yet been reached, with high rates of infection in schools.

The Government unveiled plans to give every school CO2 monitors in August, back when Gavin Williamson was still in charge of the Department for Education before he was sacked and replaced with Nadhim Zahawi.

Bradford was also chosen for a trial using air purifiers in 30 schools by the Government, the results of which have yet to be published.

It said the rollout of CO2 monitors began in September, prioritising special schools and alternative provision where more vulnerable children study.

However now in mid-October no mainstream schools in Bradford have received their monitors yet.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Ventilation is just one measure we are advising schools to take, alongside vaccinations, testing and increased hygiene, to strike the balance between keeping staff, students and families safe and minimising disruption to education.

“Our rollout of at least 300,000 carbon dioxide monitors to schools, backed by £25 million in government funding, is on track.

“Special schools and alternative provision were prioritised to receive their monitors first given their higher-than-average numbers of vulnerable pupils, and all schools and colleges will receive their monitors over the coming weeks.”

With rising cases in schools, Mr Murch said it was puzzling why measures to reduce the spread of infection such as the wearing of face masks and scrapping assemblies were not being enforced in schools to bring infections down.

The Telegraph & Argus asked the Department of Education if it was considering reintroducing mandatory face masks in classrooms to combat rising levels of infection, but the Government did not answer.

Since schools returned, Bradford’s infection rate has jumped from 293.5 to 416.9 infections per 100,000 people.

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