A Katoomba Public School mum has started an e-Petition to ensure adequate ventilation in schools

A Katoomba mum has made an urgent plea to look after the health and safety of local children heading back to school after the COVID-19 lockdown.

Natalie Beak has started an e-Petition to the NSW Parliament in a bid to ensure adequate ventilation is installed and maintained in primary schools. Already there are 5,700 signatures.

Ms Beak, whose son, Archie, 7, attends Katoomba Public School, said the current COVID safety measures by the Department of Education - ensuring that windows and doors can be opened - was not sufficient.

About 51,000 air purification devices are being rolled out to schools in Victoria. Ms Beak has been waiting for a similar decision in NSW - a decision that has not come.

"I've been vocal on our P&C [about the issue]. It was once Victoria announced they were providing filters ... it was the only thing I could think of to do. So far we've had a big response from teachers and parents sharing it on social media."

She has the Katoomba Public School P&C's full support. The school is in the process of undertaking an independent audit on their ventilation and are crowdfunding the $15,000 for the materials in case the government won't pay.

The petition asks for carbon dioxide monitors and air purification devices (including HEPA filters) to be installed in classrooms. It also appeals for shade sails to make it easier for classes to be conducted outside.

Ms Beak said with "one in three COVID cases in NSW in children and teenagers under 19; and children under 12 not currently eligible for vaccination, adequate ventilation in primary schools is a priority."

"COVID-19 is an airborne disease. Ventilation, along with vaccination and vital COVID-safe steps, are essential to keep children safe."

"In the NSW Parliament, the upper house ventilation system has been upgraded to ensure eight exchanges of fresh air every hour on the advice of health experts. Our children should be afforded the same protection."

State Member for Blue Mountains Trish Doyle, a former teacher, is backing the petition. She said it was time for the Premier to live up to his edict that he was a premier for families. "I hope he listens to the P&C's calls."

Ms Beak's petition states that OzSAGE, a network of public health experts, believes ventilation in classrooms is a key requirement for the safe lifting of restrictions in NSW. Children return to classrooms from October 25. The petition needs 20,000 signatures to be debated in Parliament.

A Department of Education spokesperson said NSW Health, the Doherty Institute and the World Health Organisation had identified "maximising natural ventilation by opening doors and windows as the best method to disperse particles in the air".

"The department has reviewed all windows, fans and ventilation systems in more than 150,000 spaces across more than 2200 public schools, including preschools, in NSW. Any necessary rectification works ... such as easing and adjusting windows to ensure they operate as intended, will be completed."

The spokesperson said the review has provided the department with "significant information to inform ventilation and asset use recommendations, and will provide schools with localised advice for COVID-safe teaching and learning".

"The department is confident the vast majority of spaces can be adequately ventilated through natural and mechanically assisted ventilation."

The spokesperson said the department would "work with individual schools to develop a localised plan and consider mitigation strategies to enable the continued safe use of their facilities".

"Ventilation is only one part of the return to school plan. There is a comprehensive range of measures in place, including vaccinations, servicing and cleaning of air conditioning systems, outdoor teaching, use of masks, additional hygiene supplies and enhanced cleaning."

Ms Beak said Mountains schools were more susceptible to bushfire smoke and regular hazard reduction burns throughout summer, so opening windows and doors was not always possible. She added term 4 "has only been back a week and already nine NSW public schools had closed due to COVID".

To help the school's campaign go to https://www.pozible.com/profile/katoomba-ps-pandc