Covid-19 in schools: Defect in 10,000 air monitors delays rollout

Monitors help allow staff to quickly identify where ventilation needs to be improved

A Government pledge to ensure all school classrooms are equipped with carbon dioxide monitors by mid-September has been dealt a blow after faults were identified in almost 30 per cent of devices.

The full delivery of about 35,000 carbon dioxide monitors to all State primary and secondary schools was due to have been completed by early next week.

However, Lennox Laboratories – which manages logistics for the supply and distribution of monitors to schools – has alerted the Department of Education to a fault with a final batch of 10,000 devices.

Hospital Report

In a statement, Lennox said faulty LCD displays in the units were identified when they were checked following assembly in a UK production facility.


The defective monitors have not been distributed to schools and there are no similar concerns with any of the 25,000 devices that have already been distributed to schools, it said.

In a statement, Lennox said it was working with the manufacturer to confirm how quickly a replacement batch of monitors can be provided to schools.

However, given global demand for the devices, this is expected to be during October.

“Lennox is fully aware of the impact this will have on schools and is working with the Department of Education and the manufacturer to rectify the situation as fast as possible,” it said.

In response, the department said it was “disappointed” at the news that there would be a delay with the delivery.

In the meantime, it said schools can opt to purchase their own monitors to make up for the shortfall and costs incurred can be recouped.

Carbon dioxide monitors measure the quality of air in a room and allow staff to quickly identify where ventilation needs to be improved. Letting fresh air into indoor spaces can help remove air that contains virus particles and is important in preventing the spread of Covid-19.

Latest figures indicate that about 25,000 carbon dioxide monitors will be in schools by the end of this week.

About 96 per cent of primary schools will have received their full allocation of monitors, while secondary schools will have received a partial delivery, according to Lennox.

It says it was on target to have the full cohort of 35,000 monitors delivered to schools by the beginning of next week, prior to issues with the final batch being identified.

Primary schools are due to receive between one and 20 devices each, depending on their size, and secondary schools are due receive up to 35 monitors each.

Testing rates

The news comes as the Chief Medical Officer voices concern about an increase in testing rates and confirmed cases in children aged between five and 12 years old.

Dr Tony Holohan will tell the the Oireachtas health committee on Wednesday that restrictions to curtail the spread of Covid-19 cannot be ruled out in future as the incidence of the virus in Ireland was high “with an uncertain trajectory”.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent