Covid Scotland: Lack of ventilation action 'leaving children shivering', say Lib Dems

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Plans to chop the bottom off classroom doors are among the Scottish Government plans to improve ventilation which are to be under additional scrutiny.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have lodged 25 parliamentary questions to the Scottish Government about the plans to tackle ventilation in schools, including whether research was undertaken around the health and safety impacts of the plans to chop the bottom off classroom doors.

Willie Rennie, the Lib Dem education spokesperson, has also asked why the £5 million funding available to councils for ventilation was not made available earlier in the pandemic.

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Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville is under pressure over classroom ventilationEducation Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville is under pressure over classroom ventilation
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville is under pressure over classroom ventilation

He said: “This has been a torrid week for the Scottish Government. Its plans to improve ventilation in schools have been exposed as totally lacking in scale and detail.

“It is two years since the virus arrived in Scotland. The lack of action on the part of the Scottish Government to drive ventilation improvements nationwide is leaving pupils and teachers shivering.

“The Scottish Government’s fresh funding has only been designed to target 2,000 classrooms – that is just one in every 25.

“Instead of spending £17 million on national testing of children as young as four and five, debunked by everyone from teachers to the OECD, the SNP/Green Government should redirect that money towards keeping everyone safe at school.”

The opposition attack come after Nicola Sturgeon came under pressure during First Minister’s Questions last week about the plans, which were widely mocked by opposition politicians.

Many children are facing learning in cold classrooms due to the need to open windows to improve air flow, despite the wintery weather.

The Scottish Government said it had provided councils with £10m for ventilation and carbon dioxide monitoring as well as the £5m recently allocated.

It added that £90m of Covid-19 logistics funding had also been provided to councils for uses including improving ventilations in classrooms.

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A spokesperson said: “Local authorities have taken action and are continuing to work hard to make improvements across the schools estate where it is needed, helped by the additional funding we have made available to support their work.

“The precise remedial measures used in each case should be informed by expert assessment that adheres to legal obligations with regard to health and safety, which include fire safety.”

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