As schools in Ireland plan to reopen, this week after the Christmas holidays, there is considerable concern among teaching unions as to how to manage the health and safety of its staff and pupils given the high level of Omicron cases currently in Ireland. Teaching associations are calling for updated risk assessments to be presented before schools reopen later this week.
“The ASTI is deeply concerned that the Minister for Education may reopen schools without putting in place additional measures necessary to safeguard the health and safety of students and school staff. This would constitute an unacceptable risk in the context of the Omicron wave,” it said.
It is also calling for HEPA filtration units to be rolled-out to schools, saying it “beggars belief that almost two years into this pandemic this basic facility is not in place where necessary”.
The General Secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland, Kieran Christie, has said the union is committed to the reopening of schools in a “coherent and sensible fashion” that will work for everybody. “We feel that additional measures with regard to health and safety are and will be necessary,” he said.
In a press statement , the ASTI said it would be proposing a “delayed and staggered” approach to reopening when it meets Public Health officials and representatives from the Department of Education on Tuesday 4th January.
What is a HEPA filter?
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air and refers to filters made in accordance with specific requirements. HEPA filters are mechanical filters with a capacity for sifting small particles at a much higher rate than any other conventional filter.
What’s important about HEPA filters is they’re incredibly effective at capturing almost every size of particle. They can capture viruses, bacteria, pollen, PM2.5, allergens including coronavirus.
What is a HEPA 13 Filter?
Rensair air purifier from MMS Medical, was orignally developed for Scandiavian Hospitals and is now used around the world, not only in hospitals but in businesses, schools, universities, nursing home, day care centre. Hospital grade HEPA filters are H13 HEPA and above. Rensair contains a HEPA 13 filter. The Dept of Education in Ireland specifies a HEPA 13 Filter in its Room Air Guidance for Schools, December 2021