Ministers were accused of allowing thousands of children to freeze in their classrooms during a second Covid winter by failing to provide adequate ventilation. 

Today, Labour lashed out at the delay of nearly a year from when scientists warned the Government about the importance of airflow in schools and launched a pilot program to find out how it could be improved.

Pilot work is currently being done in Bradford (West Yorkshire) and was awarded in April 2017. It will not be complete until 2021-2022. 

The opposition however cited Sage experts who advised in May 2020, 11 months before the tender was issued, that ventilation and other measures were essential in order for schools to remain open. 

The winters of 2020/21 & 21/22 saw complaints from schoolchildren that their learning environment was too cold. 

The majority of Covid restrictions are already lifted at the close of the school year. 

Stephen Morgan, the shadow schools minister, said: ‘These revelations expose further dither and delay from the government on basic classroom protections, while schools faced wave after wave of Covid chaos.

“Now, twenty months after scientists first warned, our children still have to be taught in cold classrooms. It is unacceptable that ministers treat our children like an afterthought.

“The Education Secretary needs to urgently address this issue and create a ventilation plan that allows children to learn together in school.

Labour today lashed out at a delay of almost a year between scientists first warning the Government of the importance of good airflow in school spaces and the launch of a pilot scheme to work out how to improve it.

Today, Labour lashed out at the delay of nearly a year from when scientists warned the Government about the importance of airflow in schools and launched a pilot program to find out how it could be improved.

Stephen Morgan, the shadow schools minister, said: 'Now, 20 months on from scientists' first warnings, children are still being forced to learn in cold classrooms'

Shadow schools minister Stephen Morgan said that 20 months after scientists first warned, children still have to be taught in cold classrooms.

In an answer to a written parliamentary question by shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson about the pilot scheme, the Vaccines and Public Health Minister Maggie Throup said: 'The tender was published 28 April 2021, with contracts awarded to the successful bidders in July 2021. The trial is ongoing and will continue to the end of the school year 2021/2022.'

Bridget Phillipson asked Maggie Throup a written question about the pilot programme. Maggie Throup answered that the tender was made public 28 April 2021. Contracts were then awarded to the winning bidders in July 2021. The school year ends in 2021/2022.

Unions attack’micromanagement’ during mask row 

Furious teaching unions today accused Whitehall of trying to ‘micromanage’ schools after Cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi emailed MPs saying he will personally vet any plans to bring back masks in classrooms.

Last night, the Education Secretary stated that local officials will try to convince schools to get rid of masks.

He insisted that ‘face-to-face education for all students has consistently been my priority’, adding: ‘National guidance to wear face coverings in communal areas will also be removed in line with the national move out of Plan B. This applies to all schools’.

But in a letter to MPs, he admitted that masks could be reintroduced in the event of an ‘extraordinary’ local Covid outbreak.

The NEU’s Dr Mary Bousted today raged that ministers seeking to ‘micromanage such decisions seems utterly unnecessary, if not bizarre’. 

It came as schools across England were in open rebellion against the Government over masks after more than 100 head teachers wrote to parents warning that children must continue wearing face coverings in classrooms.

Union bosses stoked the fires of revolt this week after accusing Boris Johnson of flouting his ‘duty of care’ to teachers over the new guidance on masks.

As the Omicron wave recedes, the Prime Minister made this announcement: There will be no more Covid restrictions, starting with WFH guidance, face coverings, and Covid isolation.

But critics have claimed that Mr Johnson is axing virus restrictions to appease his Tory backbench and save his own skin as he fights for his political career amid the dramatic fallout from ‘Partygate’.

Schools are defying the Government’s anti-mask guidance and telling parents that pupils must continue to wear face coverings.


Minutes of a Sage meeting on May 19, 2020, when schools had already been closed by then education secretary Gavin Williamson, show that they advised that ‘opening schools … safely would require a significant effort to ensure that environments are appropriate to minimise transmission (for example distancing, hygiene measures, and ventilation). This will require systems to assess the situation and possibly enforcements.

In July 2020, two months after the Covid airborne outbreak, an advisory group issued a report on indoor Covid. It warned that winter planning is crucial to make sure spaces are adequately ventilated and not compromise the thermal comfort of the occupants.

In response to a question from Bridget Phillipson, shadow education secretary, Maggie Throup, Vaccines and Public Health minister, stated that the tender had been published on 28 April 2021 and contracts were awarded in July 2021. The school year ends in 2021/2022.

Thirty schools in Bradford are testing air purifiers and UV lights in classrooms as part of a £1.75 Covid-fighting trial run by the UK Heath Security Agency (UKHSA).

It will assess whether they curb the spread of the coronavirus and other respiratory diseases and hopes to gauge how feasible it is to implement the technologies in primary schools. 

The trial included 10 schools with high-efficiency particle air (HEPA), 10 with UV purifiers, as well as 10 schools without equipment that could be used to control the experiment.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, fog, mist and vapour are all possible options for controlling the spread of coronavirus and disinfecting larger spaces or rooms. 

At the time the pilot was launched, then schools minister Nick Gibb was asked if it would be rolled out more widely, telling the BBC: ‘Ventilation has been a key part of the guidance we provided to schools about how to keep schools safe and to minimise the risk of transmission, as well as hygiene and all the staggered starts and so on in schools.

Ventilation has been an essential part of this process since the very beginning and remains a key part of what we teach schools.

“We are investigating air purifiers,” said Bradford pilot. To see if CO2 monitors are an efficient way to help schools monitor the air quality, we’re also investigating them.

We reached out to the UKHSA and Department of Health for comments. 

Boris Johnson made the call to teachers insisting on masks being worn in lessons and asked them not to use these in class.

England’s Head Teachers are planning to make pupils cover their heads in schools and ignore Plan B restrictions from the Prime Minister.

Britain’s major teaching unions accused Tory leader, who is currently in trouble, of taking the decision to protect his political career by handling the aftermath from ‘Partygate’ rather than on sound scientific and public health advice.

National Education Union cautioned against lifting Omicron restrictions ‘too soon’ as it might cause’more disruption to schools.

A spokesperson for No10 today stated that children were among the most affected by the disruptions during the pandemic. We recognize the effects it had on their education.

“The Prime Minister thinks it vital that all children receive face to face education. The children should have a regular experience in school.

“We have made it clear that facemasks are no longer required in schools and will not allow them to be used in public areas.

Official data in England shows that covid infections have been on the rise among primary schoolchildren. This could indicate the return-to-school effect.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that eight percent of children aged between two and eleven had Covid in any one day during the week ending January 15. This is slightly higher than the 7 percent figure the week before.

The rate, based on swabs taken from 160,000 people across the country, is the highest of all other age groups, with 20 to 34-year-olds having the next highest rate (one in 17).

Children’s rates are rising despite the fact that they have fallen or are flatlining for every age group. A month ago, the virus was only found in five percent of children under twelve years old.

This is after the children have returned to their classrooms after two weeks of holiday break.

Omicron’s launch last week saw an increase in infections in children aged between 6 and 12 years old. However, infections have fallen across England since then. The ONS estimated that around 2.9million people had been infected in the week ending January 15. This is a welcome decrease from the previous record of 3.7 million. 

Because it relies on random sampling from around 100,000 individuals, the ONS survey can be considered the best indicator of the UK’s outbreak.