A Lego model said to show the spread of Covid in a class has been released by a parents group demanding CO2 monitors in every classroom.
The model shows the seating arrangement of nine pupils in the Glasgow primary class said to have tested positive, represented by red Lego studs.
Children affected were sitting close to each other with windows open.
Clean Air For Class has launched a petition urging the Scottish Government and every local authority in Scotland to provide enough monitors to show when ventilation must be improved.
The group of parents and teachers also wants HEPA air filters in every classroom and nursery in Scotland and a change in isolation rules so classmates are again deemed close contacts of positive cases.
New Covid mitigation rules
Before schools resumed in August the Scottish Government said all schools must have access to CO2 monitors before the October holidays and granted an extra £10 million to councils to aid this ventilation work.
Changes in isolation requirements means entire classes or ‘bubbles’ are no longer asked to isolate. Close contacts who are asked to isolate are usually those living in the same household.
Since the start of term case numbers have spiked among children and young people as they have done across the wider Scotland population.
Last Tuesday – the latest date for which data is available – more than 4,500 pupils were absent from Tayside and Fife schools for Covid-related reasons.
A Clean Air For Class spokeswoman told us: “For too long, we have been told that classrooms are safe and that the ventilation provided by simply opening windows and doors is sufficient to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“However, since the start of the Scottish school term on August 16 we have seen the numbers of positive cases in classes explode and the hospitalisation of under-18s rise to around 70 per week, far exceeding the previous peak of January 2021.
“The evidence shows that opening windows is not enough.”
The messages kept pinging, I kept having to get more red studs out of the drawer.”
Parent behind the Lego classroom
In the Lego classroom those children represented by the red studs received positive test results on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, with their parents alerting each other over WhatsApp.
The parent who made the model told us: “I can’t draw so I made a little model out of some of the Lego bits scattered in my kids’ room.
“Green Lego studs for all the cases that were either negative or unknown, grey for empty seats and red for the positives that were being confirmed by PCR tests.
“The messages kept pinging, I kept having to get more red studs out of the drawer.
“There was no denying that this was a cluster radiating out from one table at the back right of the room.”
CO2 readings ‘needed hourly’
Clean Air For Class says that for ventilation to be effective, four to six changes of air are required every hour and that CO2 readings should be taken hourly so staff know when more ventilation is needed.
Responses to freedom of information requests submitted to all local authorities by another group, Long Covid Kids Scotland, revealed the provision of CO2 monitors around the return to school after the summer holiday.
While some local authorities had invested no money in the equipment, the four in Tayside and Fife were praised for their provision so far.
Monitors in Tayside and Fife schools
Early in August Angus Council had invested £63,000 and had 425 CO2 monitors for 59 schools, with more to come.
🚨7th from @AngusCouncil🚨
👉Mech. ventilation 24/7, 100% fresh air, no recirculation
👉Windows open all day
👉425 CO2 monitors/59 schools, set @ 800ppm
👉Recirculation fans in deep spaces
👉More CO2 units soon
— Long Covid Kids Scotland 🏴 (@LCKScotland) August 9, 2021
Responding just days into the new term, Fife Council had spent £34,000 and had 1,500 CO2 monitors for those schools without built-in units.
🚨20th from @FifeCouncil🚨
👉Dev. guidance & held staff workshops on ventilation for AIRBORNE viruses👏
👉1500 CO2 units to schools w/out built-in units👏
👉Mech vent inspected, upgraded/repaired
— Long Covid Kids Scotland 🏴 (@LCKScotland) August 20, 2021
Dundee City Council said at the end of August it had distributed 600 CO2 monitors to 56 schools at a cost of almost £43,000.
🚨27th is @DundeeCouncil🚨
👉running all mechanical ventilation at 100% full fresh air intake where applicable.
👉600 CO2 monitors distributed to 56 schools👏
— Long Covid Kids Scotland 🏴 (@LCKScotland) August 30, 2021
Just last week, Perth and Kinross Council said it had distributed 480 monitors to 79 schools, with another 1,000 to come. The cost was £43,000.
👉Vent. surveys & improvement: additional vent, ⬆️fan running speeds, new timeclocks extend operating hours
👉480 CO2 monitors distributed/79 schools. 1000 further units to be procured.
— Long Covid Kids Scotland 🏴 (@LCKScotland) September 7, 2021