Katoomba Public School Mom Started E-petition to Ensure Adequate Ventilation in Schools | Blue Mountain Gazette

A mother from Katoomba has launched an urgent appeal to ensure the health and safety of local children returning to school after the COVID-19 lockdown.

Natalie Beak has launched an e-petition to the New South Wales Parliament to ensure adequate ventilation is installed and maintained in primary schools. There are already 5,700 signatures.

Ms Beak, whose son Archie, 7, attends Katoomba Public School, said the Education Department’s current COVID security measures – ensuring windows and doors can be opened – were not not sufficient.

About 51,000 air purifiers are being deployed to schools in Victoria. Ms Beak was awaiting a similar decision in New South Wales – a decision that did not come.

“I talked about our P&C [about the issue]. It was after Victoria announced that they were providing filters … it was the only thing I could think of. So far we have had a great response from teachers and parents who have shared it on social media. ”

She has the full support of Katoomba Public School P&C. The school is undertaking an independent audit of its breakdown and is crowdfunding the $ 15,000 for materials in case the government does not pay.

The petition calls for carbon dioxide monitors and air purification devices (including HEPA filters) to be installed in classrooms. It also uses shade sails to facilitate the conduct of lessons outside.

Ms Beak said that with “one in three cases of COVID in NSW in children and adolescents under 19; and children under 12 are not currently eligible for vaccination, a adequate ventilation in primary schools is a priority ”.

“COVID-19 is an airborne disease. Ventilation, along with vaccination and life-saving COVID safety measures, are essential to keep children safe. “

“In the Parliament of New South Wales, the upper chamber ventilation system has been improved to provide eight exchanges of fresh air every hour on the advice of health experts. Our children should benefit from the same. protection.”

Blue Mountains Member State Trish Doyle, a former teacher, supports the petition. She said it was time for the Prime Minister to honor his Order in Council that he was a premier for families. “I hope he listens to the P&C calls.”

Ms Beak’s petition says OzSAGE, a network of public health experts, believes ventilation in classrooms is a key requirement for the safe lifting of restrictions in NSW. Children return to class from October 25. The petition needs 20,000 signatures to be debated in Parliament.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said that NSW Health, the Doherty Institute and the World Health Organization had identified “maximizing natural ventilation by opening doors and windows as the best method to disperse air. particles in the air “.

“The department examined all windows, fans and ventilation systems in more than 150,000 spaces in more than 2,200 public schools, including kindergartens, in New South Wales. All necessary rectification work… such as the relaxation and adjustment of the windows to make sure they work as expected, will be completed. “

The spokesperson said the review has provided the department “with important information to inform recommendations for ventilation and asset use, and will provide schools with localized guidance for safe teaching and learning for COVID.”

“The department is convinced that the vast majority of spaces can be properly ventilated with natural ventilation and mechanical assistance. “

The spokesperson said the department “will work with individual schools to develop a localized plan and consider mitigation strategies to allow continued and safe use of their facilities.”

“Ventilation is only part of the back-to-school plan. A full range of measures are in place, including vaccinations, maintenance and cleaning of air conditioning systems, outdoor education, use of masks, additional hygiene supplies and improved cleaning. “

Ms Beak said schools in the mountains were more susceptible to smoke from bush fires and regular harm reduction burns throughout the summer, so opening windows and doors was not always possible. She added that term 4 “has only returned a week and already nine NSW public schools had closed due to COVID.”

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