Unfair of government to force administrative burden of procuring HEPA on schools – Matt Carthy TD
Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has said that this week’s government announcement allowing schools to purchase HEPA filtration devices via minor works grant funding is an unfair approach that will add hugely to the workload of school leaders in the days leading up to Christmas.
He has supported the calls on the Education Minister to centrally procure and distribute these devices to schools that need them.
Deputy Carthy said:
“The government have finally been forced to listen to parents, teachers, school leaders and the opposition, and are finally moving in the right direction on ventilation in schools.
“However, the manner in which this funding has been presented is incredibly inefficient and the Department of Education has dropped a Christmas present of additional administration on the desks of school leaders who are already under severe pressure.
“Instead of government admitting that they were wrong to dismiss the importance of HEPA filtration, they have couched this announcement in terms of a minor works grant, which will add significantly to the workload of school leaders.
“In almost every school across the country, there are many projects that could benefit from funding under the minor works grant. It is unfair to have to put principals in a situation where they must choose between replacing broken sports equipment or fixing a leak, or purchasing HEPA filtration devices.
“School leaders will also have to jump through significant hoops if they decide to purchase HEPA filtration. The guidance produced by the Department on the type of filtration to buy is incredibly technical and unclear.
“This is the last thing school leaders needed to land on their desk before the Christmas break. HEPA filtration would be much better centrally procured by the Department and distributed to schools who need them. This would likely be more cost efficient also. I cannot see why the Department have not done this.
“Sinn Féin will be challenging the Minister for Education to reconsider this and to centrally procure.”