Quebec targets fall for C02 detectors in classrooms

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Don’t expect to see all 48,000 Quebec classrooms outfitted with carbon dioxide detectors before the start of the new school year.

“The ministry’s plan is for the classrooms to be equipped during the fall of 2021,” the Education Ministry said late Friday in a tweet. “It should be remembered that Quebec is the only province to equip all of its classes with CO2 readers.”

In fact, the deadline for installing carbon dioxide detectors in classrooms is June 30, 2022, according to a letter dated Friday that was sent to school board administrators and published on Twitter by the COVID Écoles Québec citizen account, which tracks the effects of the pandemic in the education sector. The June 2022 target rests on the assumption that detectors will start being delivered in September, the letter states.

Quebec is planning to hold two information sessions on the detectors for school administrators this coming Monday and Wednesday, the ministry said in the letter. All classrooms, libraries, gymnasiums, childcare facilities and potentially school dining rooms will need to be equipped with detectors, the ministry added. The devices will also measure room temperature and humidity.

Air quality in schools has emerged as a thorn in the side of the Legault government this year. It was only around a month ago that Education Minister Jean-François Roberge pledged to make improvements to school ventilation systems, in part by purchasing carbon dioxide detectors that measure the quality of the air in classrooms “as soon as possible.”

Radio-Canada reported Friday that the government still hadn’t published details of the call for tenders it had promised by June 10. The detectors will be purchased “quickly,” Bryan St-Louis, a spokesperson for the ministry, told Radio-Canada.

Roberge faced a barrage of criticism this spring after insisting Quebec’s public health department had signed off on air quality tests done in some of the province’s schools. In June, the minister said he wants to continue modernizing and improving the school system for any possible resurgence of the pandemic.

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