2 February 2022
For immediate release
Overseeing the supply, delivery and installation of air purifiers in schools as the 2022 school year commences is just one of the many ‘to do’ items Western Australian School Principals will need to add to their ever-growing list of additional measures taken this year to help ensure students return to school in the safest manner possible.
While the arrival of air purifiers for some WA classrooms is broadly welcomed by Principals across the state, many say there is ongoing confusion around which classrooms they will go in, who will be responsible for the installation and maintenance and whether windows will need to be open or shut to ensure they are operating efficiently.
Principals Federation of Western Australia (PFWA) President, Bevan Ripp, said the sudden arrival of air purifiers the weekend ahead of school returning was just one of many measures Principals were having to grapple with at the start of the 2022 academic year.
“I’ve spoken with a number of our Principals this last few days who were told to be available the weekend ahead of school returning to take delivery of the units and then others who have told me units have arrived with no instructions on how they are to be used or where,” he said.
“Principals across WA are tired of their good will being consistently taken for granted.
“This is all in addition to a raft of new occupational health and safety measures our Principals are grappling with in addition to their usual workload to make sure that students are able to return safely to school this year during what is a very uncertain period.”
Mr Ripp said that the release of Covid safe protocols and guidelines for Principals and schools by the Minister for Education on the eve of the Australia Day public holiday, and just two working days ahead of the official return to school date, had left many of his members scrambling to prepare.
“We just feel that with two years of pandemic experience under their belt, the Government should have been better prepared in terms of return to school protocols while Covid is active in the community.
“The Education Department is doing the best job it can to adapt and respond as quickly as possible, however this does feel like government policy being made on the run,” he added.
Confusion and inconsistency surrounds the use of air purifiers in class rooms across the country with some environmental and air quality experts questioning their efficacy and proper use. Victoria and NSW are deploying them across public schools while South Australia and Queensland have deemed them not necessary.
Mr Ripp said the additional pressure being placed on Principals, both in the metropolitan area and rural and regional WA, was adding to the significant pressure they were already feeling with many reporting they were feeling ‘close to burn out’.
“Many of our members are at breaking point and reporting that they are nearing the point of professional and personal burn out and that is not good news for WA students.”
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