Ventilation in schools

Ventilation in schools

The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to require a health and safety response from schools to minimise the risk of transmission. The Ministry is continuing to support schools to maintain good ventilation in their spaces year-round. 


Our advice to schools is to maximise fresh-air ventilation capabilities as much as possible while maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures, to help to reduce the risk of transmission of airborne illnesses including COVID-19. 

The importance of ventilation

All New Zealand schools are designed to be well-ventilated, either naturally or mechanically. When airborne illnesses are prevalent, maintaining good indoor air quality reduces the risk of airborne transmission by regularly refreshing the air in a space. 

The best way to achieve good ventilation is to open windows and doors, either fully or partially, whenever you can. The exception to this is spaces that are fitted with ducted air conditioning systems which do not rely on opening windows to bring in fresh air.  Note that heat pumps are not ducted air conditioning systems as they do not bring in fresh outdoor air, they only cool/heat and re-cycle the existing indoor air.

Our guidance is provided to help schools understand how ventilation works, and to assess and mitigate the risks caused by poor ventilation. 

Schools are encouraged to follow our guidance and fine-tune their ventilation strategies year-round, to cater for the seasonal and outdoor conditions.

Support for schools

Support is available to schools who are concerned about maintaining good ventilation. This includes:

  • Additional funding for urgent property improvements over $5,000 that are required to achieve good ventilation.
  • Distributing additional portable CO2 monitors and air cleaners at no cost to schools.
  • The ability to purchase suitable portable air cleaners and CO2 monitors from the Ministry’s nominated suppliers at discounted pricing.
  • Downloadable resources and other useful tools to help schools follow the guidance. 

For further ventilation advice and support, please contact your Ministry property advisor or

Window Winding Handles available 

In visits to schools, the COVID-19 Ventilation Programme team found that some schools are unable to easily open their windows due to the winding mechanism handle being lost or broken.

Parts are still available for most systems, but not for the manual single-arm crank window winders (old imperial brass-style removable handles) commonly used in schools built from the 1950s to the 1970s. 

We are having a limited number of this specific brass-style handle made (indicative image below), to provide to schools on request and at no cost. Alternatively, schools with the capability to do so can make their own handles based on the design which was created by Trident High School. Requests for the handles or their design should be submitted to by Wednesday 30 November.

window winding handle design