By SYDNEY GAW
Since the start of the 2020-2021 school year, IUSD and the staff at UHS have implemented new COVID-19 safety measures to ensure the health of students and teachers participating in hybrid learning. With the pressure to keep schools open, IUSD has worked to limit student and staff exposure to the virus.
In addition to wiping down desks and all work spaces upon entering a classroom, students are also encouraged to sanitize their hands regularly at the hand sanitizer dispensers stationed around the school. Several other disinfectant systems have also been installed in classrooms, including hand sanitizer dispensers with 60% ethyl alcohol, upgraded HVAC systems, and air purification units. Teachers have also been provided with EPA approved disinfectant wipes to sanitize desks in between class periods and additional personal protective equipment.
While the safety of the students and faculty relies heavily on their own cooperation in following health protocol, other preventative measures have also been put in place to account for the large number of people on campus each day.
“The custodial crew sanitizes and wipes all high touch areas, including desks, tables, chairs, door handles, light switches, handrails, and fabric chairs or benches,” UHS assistant principal Matthew Pate said. “The team has been completing this work every night, [and] they have a weekly log attesting to everything being done.”
The custodial team is also using an electrostatic sanitizer in each classroom. Electrostatic spray surface cleaning utilizes an electrically charged tank that allows sanitizers, mold preventatives and disinfectants to evenly coat all types of surfaces. Chemicals with a positive electrical charge exit the electrostatic sprayer and become attracted to negatively charged surfaces, thus ensuring that all sides of a surface are adequately sanitized.
The school administration is also working to make sure that outdoor spaces are just as thoroughly cleaned.
“The outside areas, restrooms, concrete tables, benches, and all handrails are sanitized several times a day. Restrooms are done three times daily,” said Pate. “Tables and benches are done after each break and after lunch.”
With the added COVID-19 safety measures this year, the custodial staff is responsible for carrying out COVID-19 sanitation protocol in addition to their normal duties.
“We’re doing our best to ensure the safety and health of the students and staff,” Raul Manriquez, UHS Custodial Head said. “Everyday we make sure that all the classrooms are sterilized, and that trash cans and recycling bins are emptied.”
Although the new health and safety measures require more diligence on behalf of the custodial team, no new members have been acquired.
“We did not hire any extra custodial staff this year. However, we re-arranged the schedule of a few on the custodial crew so we have the human resources needed to sanitize each of the bathrooms during each period, sanitize outdoor areas after each break and lunch, as well as high touch areas,” Pate said.
The district also increased the budget for sanitation and health measures this year, ensuring that adequate personal protective equipment, sanitation systems, and disinfectant supplies could be provided for teachers at each school.
“In total, [IUSD] allocated $22+ million dollars in upgraded HVAC filters, disinfectant wipes, new disinfecting machines, desk guards, hand sanitizer, HEPA filters, face masks, and face shields, among other things,” Pate said.
Although IUSD has been utilizing many resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many community members remain concerned about the effectiveness of these added safety measures. With the help of student and administration adherence to health and safety precautions, IUSD hopes to minimize the possibilities of a second closure.