Temporary COVID school closures will remain



Ms Owen confirmed that there are no plans for rapid antigenic tests, which are not yet approved for self-administered use in Australia but are being tested in some private schools.

In Britain, students regularly test themselves for COVID-19. If a student tests positive, they must self-isolate for 10 days, but close contacts who test negative may continue to attend classes to avoid widespread absences. In New South Wales, the Department of Education plans to confine students to their age class bubbles and ban mixtures to prevent multiple cohorts from being sent home to isolate themselves.

Mr Gavrielatos said there appeared to be discrepancies between the measures used overseas, and even in Victoria, compared to NSW. “These contradictions are not helpful and certainly do not contribute to the necessary confidence required in these circumstances,†he said.

Every school in New York City will have two air purifiers by next year. High Efficiency Particulate Air Purifiers (HEPA) work by mechanical filtration and can remove tiny particles, including potentially infectious aerosols from the air.

The UK Education Department has purchased 300,000 carbon dioxide monitors and is conducting a trial in 30 schools that compares HEPA filters and UV purifiers with a control group, to determine which one works best.

Victoria has signaled that CO2 monitors and particulate filters will be part of her back-to-school plan. The NSW non-government sector is also focusing on ventilation, testing fresh air levels, installing air purifiers and purchasing CO2 monitors.


NSW government schools, on the other hand, are vetted to make sure all windows are functioning efficiently, while in 40 so-called sealed schools – which are fully air conditioned with windows that cannot be open – new filters have been installed in all air conditioning systems.

Ms Owen said there was no plan for mechanical ventilation. “I know it sounds trite… but [opening doors and windows is] the best way to ventilate our classrooms, â€she said. “No one with scientific or medical qualifications tells us that [HEPA filters are] will help right now. No one has shown us proof of this. All the advice we have had so far is that these filters are no better than opening windows and doors.

However, Professor Lidia Morawska, an aerosol expert from the Queensland University of Technology, said natural ventilation was not always sufficient and purifiers should remain an option.

“One window may not be enough. There will be classrooms or schools where the concentration is still high [even if windows are open],” she said.


“If so, use an air purifier [which] sucks air through a HEPA filter and in doing so removes particles containing viruses from the air.

Professor Morawska said there could be risks in relying on opening windows, given the risks of heat exhaustion, smoke from bush fires and pollution of the air outside the country. summer is approaching. “[There are situations where] we still have to close [windows] and use air conditioning and purifiers.

A spokeswoman for the education department said she “was working closely with NSW Health and following their advice to ensure schools adhere to restrictions, protective measures and ventilation requirements.”



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