Victorian government invests in school ventilation

The Victorian Government is making sure the return to the classroom is as safe as possible, with the biggest investment in education ventilation in Australian history to be rolled out across Victorian schools.

The rollout is as part of the state government’s plan to keep school communities protected with the Three Vs: Ventilation, Vaccination and Vital COVIDSafe Steps.

The government has announced it is investing more than $190 million in initiatives ready to implement in schools across Victoria to ensure that once they’re back open, they stay open.

From the start of Term 4, 51,000 air purification devices will be rolled out to all government and low-fee non-government schools to remove potentially infectious particles – like coronavirus – from higher-risk areas in schools including staff rooms, sick bays, music rooms and other high traffic areas.

The purifiers will be delivered by tech giant Samsung, and to get as many school sites as possible protected quickly, their delivery to Victoria will include being expedited by air progressively in the coming weeks and months.

In addition, these 2,149 schools will all be entitled to a grant of up to $25,000 to purchase shade sails – with $60 million to create more outdoor learning spaces and make it easy for classes to be conducted outside. This program complements the Department of Health’s existing School Shade Grants Program.

Throughout the school holidays and Term 4, infrastructure audits, ventilation assessments, and CO2 monitoring that has already started will continue in a sample of schools to identify any further actions that can be taken to make schools even safer – and will also cover a number of early childhood education services co-located on school sites.

The government is also establishing a Ventilation Technical Advisory Panel to undertake further risk assessments of other environments – for example, early childhood settings and youth justice facilities, which will help inform future ventilation measures.

These initiatives build on advice already issued to schools to increase fresh air flow into indoor spaces through opening windows, using door jams, and switching air handling units to 100 per cent outdoor air, where possible.

Minister for Education James Merlino said: “With a roadmap in place to get all students back to school safely, we’ll make sure every single Victorian child is supported when they’re back in the classroom – whether that’s with their schoolwork or their wellbeing.”

In order to work, all staff in schools and early childhood services will be required to have a first dose by 18 October or have a booking within one week, with full vaccination required by 29 November unless a medical exemption applies – including in government and non-government schools and all types of early childhood and care settings.