More natural air ventilation systems for schools

The Government is maximising fresh air in classrooms under a new program to protect school communities from the spread of COVID-19.

A row of desks with the government logo superimposed on image.

A boost to natural ventilation is headed to more than 10,000 public school classrooms with the rollout of automatic fresh air ventilation systems, as the NSW Government bolsters protection against COVID-19 for school communities.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the $100 million Air Quality Assurance Program was focused on delivering permanent improvements to natural ventilation in classrooms, based on evidence and expert advice.

“The World Health Organisation, the Doherty Institute and NSW Health agree that maximising natural ventilation in classrooms by opening windows and doors remains the most effective method for minimising the spread of COVID-19 – and this is the foundation of our approach in schools,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The NSW Government is committed to keeping students learning face to face at school and is taking steps to ensure that we maximise fresh air in our classrooms. Installation of these systems will further enhance the quality of air in our classrooms.”

The Air Quality Assurance Program was announced in October 2021 following the comprehensive audit of more than 150,000 spaces across all NSW public schools. The audit, combined with independent, expert advice from building services consultant Steensen Varming, has guided the targeted approach to ventilation in schools.

The 10,000 classrooms newly identified to receive automatic fresh air ventilation build on the 2,000 classrooms announced last year.

The program is supporting permanent upgrades to windows, ceiling and exhaust fans, additional servicing of ventilation systems, procurement of 19,000 air purifiers and the ongoing installation of automatic fresh air ventilation systems.

In addition to the Air Quality Assurance Program, permanent fresh air ventilation systems are also being progressively installed in thousands of classrooms as part of the NSW Government’s $500 million Cooler Classrooms program.

As at February 2022, more than 5,500 classrooms and 380 libraries have had systems installed under this program.

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