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Victoria invests big in school ventilation

The Victorian government has announced it will invest more than $190 million in initiatives to support a COVID-safe reopening of schools, with a focus on ventilation.

Billed by the government as “the biggest investment in education ventilation in Australian history”, the initiative will see 51,000 air purification devices rolled out to all government and low-fee non-government schools from the start of Term 4. These will be targeted at higher-risk areas in schools including staff rooms, sick bays, music rooms and other high-traffic areas.

The purifiers will be delivered by Samsung, and will be expedited by air to ensure the equipment is rolled out as quickly as possible.

In addition, these 2,149 schools will all be entitled to a grant of up to $25,000 to purchase shade sails – with $60 million to create more outdoor learning spaces.

Throughout the school holidays and Term 4, infrastructure audits, ventilation assessments, and CO2 monitoring that has already started will continue in a sample of schools. The aim is to identify any further actions that can be taken to make schools even safer – and will also cover a number of early-childhood education services co-located on school sites.

The government is also establishing a Ventilation Technical Advisory Panel to undertake risk assessments of other environments such as early childhood settings and youth justice facilities, which will help inform future ventilation measures.

According to the government, these initiatives will build on advice already issued to schools to increase fresh airflow into indoor spaces through opening windows, using door jams, and switching air handling units to 100 per cent outdoor air, where possible.

“I know Victorian families can’t wait to see their kids back in the classroom,” says Minister for Education James Merlino. “But we need to keep them safe once they’re there, and we’re delivering ventilation devices to prevent as much transmission on school sites as possible.”

As well as improving ventilation, the government will implement compulsory vaccination for school staff, and COVID-safe steps including mandatory mask wearing and the postponement of events such as indoor sports, camps and performances that could spread the virus.

6 Replies to “Victoria invests big in school ventilation

  1. Thanks for this story.

    How do these units work and function? Are they HEPA filters and will they capture COVID-19 airborne particles? How often will the filters be changed and does the government pay for this?

    How are the filters disposed of? It should be noted that when contaminated filters are changed, the person will have to be dressed in a full environmental suit, so they do not become infected by the filters.

    It is relevant to also point out that UVC air treatment will kill COVID-19 airborne virus almost instantly, as has been explained in earlier AIRAH articles.

    1. I am concerned that once again we turn to importing product rather that using the Australian manufacturing industry. It seems there is a natural tendency to think imported is better?

  2. Yes I have to agree with above it’s not rocket science , it’s probably just a box with a fan & a fine particle filter , why couldn’t local manufacturers had a go at this ? Could’ve added a UV lamp , co2 sensor & some warning level lights all in one unit.

  3. True a filter even a Hepa filter are only particle filters they capture not Kill.
    I am the Victorian Steril Aire UVC dealer and with the correct dosage of UVC in the existing air handlers you can kill COVID -19 with 1 pass.
    It is been rolled out in many schools across the US.

  4. Too Many experts have indicated UV-C is Not safe and I am not having my Child sit in front of one for 6 hrs a day. This is a real concern for UV-C lamps in portable units
    These units are at eye height for many junior school students

    1. Nobody should be sitting in front of the lamps. They should be part of the air ventilation/circulation system so that the air passes by them and pathogens are destroyed. The lamps leave no residue in the air.

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