PARENTS are urging the Scottish Government to mandate the use of carbon dioxide monitors and clean air filters in classrooms to protect pupils from Covid risks.

While the use of CO2 monitors to measure stagnant air levels is recommended, they are not compulsory, and ventilation rather than air purification is the recommended approach.

Freedom of information data shows wide variation in spend on monitors in Scottish local authorities, ranging from no investment to £41,000.

A pilot scheme is under way in the city of Bradford, where air filters have been placed in 30 schools.

A petition signed by hundreds of parents used a Lego model to illustrate a classroom at a Glasgow primary, which is said to have recorded nine Covid cases in the past 48 hours.

HeraldScotland:

The positive pupils were concentrated towards the back of the class, which had open windows. 

According to one parent, two of the cases are twins and their siblings tested negative for the virus – which she said indicated that transmission is spreading faster in classrooms than it is in homes.

READ MORE: Roll-out of vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds to begin on Monday 

The petition is calling for HEPA filters, which are commonly used in hospitals and CO2 monitors to be installed in all nurseries and schools starting with primaries, where pupils are not required to wear masks. 

One Glasgow parent said: “We know these additional mitigations will work. We just need to convince the government that allowing Covid to rip through schools isn’t the right thing to do.”

Covid vaccines for 12-15-year-olds have now been recommended by chief medical officers of the four devolved nations while secondary pupils will be required to wear masks until at least October.

The latest data shows that as of September 9, 35, 275 pupils were absent from school for Covid-19 reasons. 

Freedom of information requests lodged by the campaign group Long Covid Kids Scotland in July and August found “staggering” variation in the spend on CO2 monitors among local authorities.

Edinburgh City Council tops the spend with £41,000 invested in 122 schools, while East Dunbartonshire said at the time that no money had been allocated. A spokeswoman said it is now in the process of installing monitors in line with current guidance.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said CO2 monitors were due to be delivered to all primary and secondary schools. Parents say it is important that the monitors are checked regularly with readings logged.

READ MORE: Face masks to remain in secondary schools until at least October 

Katy McNair, whose daughter is at an East Renfrewshire primary and tested positive for Covid-19 just over a week ago, said she offered to buy an air filter for the school but her request was turned down. 

She said: “They said they were following government guidance to provide ventilation and not air purification.”

Dr Eleanor Gaunt, a respiratory diseases expert based at Edinburgh University’s Roslin Institute, said CO2 monitors and HEPA filters were not “silver bullets” but added: “They are easy, logical things we can do to reduce the known risks to school pupils and their teachers in the classroom setting.”

She called for clearer guidance on safe levels of carbon dioxide in schools and “what to do if unacceptable levels are reached”.

READ MORE: Number of new Covid cases falls in Scotland but hospital admissions rise 

A study led by the Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health found that between 1.7 and 14% of children aged 11-17 still had symptoms, fifteen weeks after testing positive for Covid.

John Edward, of the Scottish Council for Independent Schools, said they were following local authority guidance but said some teachers were maximising outside spaces for teaching "where appropriate".

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have invested £10 million  for local authorities to improve ventilation in the schools estate and all local authorities have agreed to implement strengthened guidance on CO2 monitoring. 

“This is on top of £90m Covid logistics funding already provided to councils.”

“The guidance issued by Scottish Government has been informed by the SAGE EMG recommendations throughout the Covid pandemic.”