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Statement on ventilation in schools

14 January 2022

The safety of children and our staff is our priority.

We have closely examined the available options to ensure education facilities are as well ventilated and safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both national and international research indicates that maximising natural ventilation through opening windows and doors and/or using mechanical ventilation systems, is the main and most effective contributor to improving air quality to minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection.

In response we been working closely with preschools and schools to identify where natural ventilation can be improved, such as fixing windows that should open but don’t, and undertaking those works. We have also been assessing existing air-conditioning systems and we are making adjustments to maximise the flow of fresh air.

The department looked closely at the use of air purifiers in education settings.

We commissioned an independent trial that identified air purifiers do not reduce the amount of CO2 within education spaces in any meaningful way and provide minimal improvement to the quality of the air.

As a result, we have taken the decision not to deploy air purifiers to every classroom, staff room and learning space across the state.

SA Health advice supports the department’s position and confirms that natural ventilation is most effective.

Our approach is in line with other states and territories.

The advice is clear that ventilation is only one of a number of risk mitigation measures to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. It works best with other controls including good hygiene practices, cleaning, vaccination and the use of outdoor learning environments where appropriate.

As has been the case throughout the pandemic the department will continue to follow the expert health advice.