Additional steps must be taken to help ensure that schools across West Dunbartonshire have an effective ventilation system plan in place to prevent a spike in Covid-19 cases.
During the full council meeting last week, the majority of council members agreed that a report should be presented before them outlining the measures that have been put in place to control the coronavirus in schools.
The council has already received a share of Scottish Government resources to purchase carbon dioxide monitors for primary and secondary schools. A proposal was made to the members by Labor Council member John Mooney.
It stated: “If a school does not already have an effective ventilation system, the only measure that can be taken is to open the windows which is not always the best idea in the middle of winter; or to remove pupils from classrooms or common spaces to reduce carbon dioxide levels.
“This council is disappointed that it does not appear that there has been a significant investment in ventilation systems in schools as the limited funding from the Scottish Government will not be sufficient to fund this level of protection for pupils, teachers and school staff. We are also concerned that the school vaccination program will be postponed until December.
In view of the above, this Board invites the CEO to submit a report outlining the actions taken to ensure that schools remain safe during the upcoming winter season. The report should specify which schools have ventilation systems and their coverage. It should also specify the number of CO2 monitors the council has purchased and the schools they are in.”
But House Speaker Jonathon McCall said the proposal was unrealistic and suggested that a briefing on the issue be prepared for elected members and the public.
He said: “It is unrealistic to expect that the Scottish Government will be able to provide funding for the design, purchase and installation of ventilation systems in every school across Scotland. For 32 councils across Scotland to be able to purchase all services at the same time and 32 councils to purchase materials at the same time. Required to build such systems at the same time.
“It should be noted that no government in the UK is putting ventilation systems in place but instead has issued guidance on how best to mitigate risks and reasonable measures that can be taken to protect school buildings.
The Board notes that the CEO has emphasized that we are following the guidelines throughout this pandemic and will continue to do so.
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“Since the next Board meeting is not until December, rather than asking officers to prepare a report, the Board is asking officers to prepare a briefing for elected members and the public on the actions we have taken and are taking in our schools to protect pupils, teachers, staff and visitors.
“I don’t think the proposal is unreasonable but I think it is unacceptable to wait until December for this information.
Council member Mooney said he was baffled by the amendment and wanted to know if there were any ventilation problems that the council could address.
After discussion, the majority of members voted in favor of Councilman Mooney’s proposal.