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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Bowling Park Primary School among 29 others chosen in Bradford to take part in Covid-19 air cleaning project

Scientists from the University of Leeds are hoping that these new air cleaners will rid classrooms Covid-19 and create a safer space for children to learn.

30 primary schools in Bradford are taking part in a new study to investigate how using air cleaners could reduce the spread of Covid-19.

The study is being run by The University of Leeds and aims to explore how environmental technology, such as air purifiers could be harnessed to provide safer, healthier spaces.

It is a major investigation into how environmental technology could be harnessed to provide safer, healthier spaces.

The trial is investigating two different approaches to cleaning the air with the use of portable or wall-mounted devices. One is based on filtering the air by passing it through what is known as a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter, which captures most airborne viruses.

The second approach involves cycling the air through an enclosed unit where it is exposed to ultraviolet germicidal light, which kills microorganisms including viruses.

The study is being conducted by the University of Leeds. Image: Chemical Engineer.

The two technologies have been widely used in other settings and are regarded as safe.

 

The scientists have completed extensive research and are confident that the technologies will reduce the risk of Covid-19 being spread by breath particles carried in the air.

The £1.85 million investigation is being funded by the Department for Health and Social Care and led by Professor Mark Mon-Williams from the University of Leeds. He said: “Research has suggested that children have lost as much as half a year of schooling because of the disruption caused by the pandemic.

“There is an urgent need to identify technologies that could be adopted by schools to try and stop the spread of Covid-19. We know that good ventilation can help disperse the aerosols that can cause infection, but in busy classroom ventilation alone will not be enough.

“Environmental technology offers a potential solution – it will enable schools to operate as normal as possible and hopefully reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading among pupils.”

The trial is focusing on primary schools because most children spend a large part of the day in the same room. Many children in year 1 – those aged five and six – have fallen behind in reading, maths and writing because of the disruption to schools.

Good room ventilation helps to keep the air clean, but ventilation alone is not enough when children are talking loudly, singing or walking around the room.

Kids under the age of twelve have not been offered the Covid-19 vaccine yet. Image: Shafin Al Asad Protic.

The respiratory aerosol that is created can hang in the air for extended periods and the use of air purification technology could provide a solution.

Each of the 30 primary schools taking part in the study will have devices that track the quality of the air inside the building.

The schools have been randomly allocated to one of three experimental groups. Twelve schools are acting as a control, which means they will carry on as usual and will not have any air purification technology installed.

Of the remaining 20 schools, 10 have had portable air filtration devices fitted in classrooms and these have already been switched on.

The final eight schools are in the process of having ultraviolet light (UV-C) technology fitted on classroom walls. These are sealed units that take in air and expose it to ultraviolet light.

No ultraviolet light is emitted from the unit and if a device is tampered with, it deactivates. By the end of November, UV-C units will be operating in four schools, and in all eight by Christmas.

Pupils across the UK have had to learn from home at various stages of the pandemic. Image: Thomas park.

Over the coming weeks, scientists will collect data on the number of children in the schools who develop a Covid-19 infection or become ill with flu or asthma, and whether there is any difference in the levels of illness seen in those schools with the air purification devices.

It is possible that air purification devices will reduce other respiratory conditions.

One of the schools taking part in the study is Bowling Park Primary School in Bradford.

Headteacher Matthew Langley said: “Good attendance is key to children being successful at school. As for many schools, Covid-19 caused huge disruption to Bowling Park Primary School.

“Repeated lockdowns created very real challenges for our children, families and staff as we all worked together to continue learning from home, but the greatest problems were caused by individual cases of Covid-19 that led to bubbles, classes or groups of classes, being closed for up to 10 days at a time.

“Despite our very best efforts, our school had over 30 bubble closures last year.

“We are delighted to be part of this pilot study. All our classrooms are now fitted with air filters designed to remove airborne viruses and improve air quality for children and staff. It feels like a real step forward for us as we return to normal and try to make school as safe, consistent and positive for all our children, families and staff.”

Cllr Imran Khan supports this study.

Bradford was chosen as the location for the trial because of the hugely successful Born in Bradford study where schools, Bradford Council, health professionals and academic researchers work together to investigate ways of promoting the health and wellbeing of children in the city.

Councillor Imran Khan, deputy leader of Bradford Council and portfolio holder for education, employment and skills, said: “We are proud that Bradford is taking a lead in finding a solution to fighting Covid in schools.

“Schools are the best place for children to learn and develop. One of the worst impacts of the pandemic has been on the disruption to children’s education.

“The findings of this study could help keep pupils safer in schools by reducing the risk of the virus spreading in classrooms and so reducing the number of days of lost learning.

“We are grateful to our schools who are involved in the pilot scheme and look forward to hearing the results.”

 

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