Investment into new technology is to help improve air quality and fight off viruses in Wales’ educational settings, it has been announced.
Just days before pupils and students return for the new academic year, the Welsh Government has announced new investments totalling £5.9m to help improve air quality and quickly disinfect classrooms, lecture theatres and workshops.
As part of the investments, £3.31m will be provided for new ozone disinfecting machines capable of improving disinfection, reducing costs and reducing the number of times that learning areas need to be cleaned.
The machines, which are aimed at tackling the issue of the time and cost of cleaning rooms during the pandemic, have been developed by scientists at Swansea University following Welsh Government funding for an Ozone Classroom Decontamination Project. The machines can be used to quickly disinfect rooms when clusters of viruses are identified, and the funding announced today is expected to see more than 1,800 of the machines supplied – at least one for every school, college and university in Wales.
Dr Chedly Tizaoui, who was part of the team developing the technology at Swansea University, said,
“I am delighted that the ozone technology we developed at Swansea University will support efforts to eradicate Covid-19 in Wales. Reducing the spread of coronavirus in our educational institutions is vitally important, so our children and students can get back to the classroom.
“Ozone is potent against Covid-19 virus and due to its gaseous nature, it kills the virus whether be it airborne or adhered to a surface. Thanks to the support received from the Welsh Government and the Active Buildings pioneered by SPECIFIC, our research demonstrated that buildings can be Active on the inside and the ozone treatment developed here can be incorporated to support cleaning and disinfection of public buildings.”
As well as the funding for the ozone disinfecting machines, £2.58m will be provided for over 30,000 CO2 ‘traffic light’ monitors for teaching and learning spaces. The monitors are expected to aid the control of ventilation during the winter, with teachers and lecturers being notified when CO2 levels rise.
It is hoped that the new investments will help ensure young people can remain in education, while COVID-19 continues to remain in general circulation across Wales.
Speaking about the announcement, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language Jeremy Miles said,
“This investment in CO2 monitors will help improve air quality, while the disinfecting machines will enable classrooms to return to normal use quicker. This supports our common goal of ensuring learners can continue learning together with their teachers and friends.
“But we must keep our guard up against Covid-19. These measures will complement, rather than replace our current advice – which includes ensuring hygiene is maintained, and washing hands thoroughly and more often than usual. “
Since 7 August, all of Wales has been at Alert Level 0 of the country’s system of coronavirus restrictions. As part of this, most restrictions are no longer in force, though people are urged to work from home wherever possible, and face coverings remain a legal requirement in indoor settings, except in hospitality premises.
The latest COVID-19 case rate in Wales is 355 per 100,000 people, with the number of cases being reported on a daily basis having increased since the county moved to Alert Level 0.