McNamara seeks improved ventilation in schools as Tanaiste suggests antigen tests being considered

The Taoiseach says the Government is considering the introduction of antigen testing to primary and secondary school settings in the autumn.

Leo Varadkar was responding today to a Dáil question by Clare Independent TD Michael McNamara who asked if ventilation would be improved in school buildings over the summer holidays to reduce the spread of Covid in classrooms and to negate the need for classroom windows to be kept open during the autumn and winter months.

Questioning the Tánaiste, Deputy McNamara asked, “Over the course of the summer are we going to introduce ventilation works to schools or are we going to have children returning to schools wearing coats and wearing masks in poorly ventilated buildings and freezing in the middle of an Irish winter with the windows open?”

Deputy McNamara also raised the potential for using stand-alone HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) filter devices in classroom.

He added that an Expert Group on the Role of Ventilation in Reducing Transmission of COVID-19, set up by the Department of Health, said such devices “maybe useful in reducing airborne transmission in spaces with insufficient ventilation.”

In response, Leo Varadkar said the matter is under consideration by Government.

“We accept that schools will need better ventilation in September and October and the issue of CO2 monitors is part of that,” stated the Tánaiste.

He continued, “We have asked the Expert Group on Antigen Testing to advise us on applying antigen testing both to indoor hospitality and to schools when they reopen in September.”