Andrew Moore, director of operations and facilities for the Weld Re-8 School District, and his crew have done a lot of work in building preparedness in advance of students returning to school.
“Since the school has been closed, we’ve had lots of time to figure it out and plan,” said Moore.
A new filtration system was installed.
“We are going to use MERV 9. It’s a high-capacity filter, so it will capture 90 percent of the air particulars down to one to three microns. They exhaust the building air out. The RTU brings in air from the outside,” said Moore.
Only three students will be sitting at a table from 6 feet to 10 feet away from each other in the commons area. All drinking fountains in the schools have been disabled. Automatic touchless water bottle fillers will be used.
“The student can still use the bottle fillers,” Moore said. “They are safe because you place your bottle underneath the filler so you don’t touch anything.”
Also in the commons, there will be hands sanitizing stations and portable hand-washing stations in various spots within the schools in the cafeteria, too.
“We will have quite a few touchless hand sanitation stations that will automatically dispense without touching it,” said Moore.
Elementary school students will be having their lunches in the classrooms. Lunch lines will be closed, so all the lunches and breakfasts will be served in bags.
The elementary schools will not have handwashing stations because they have sinks that are in each classroom. The high school and middle school do not have sinks in every classroom.
Every night, custodians will go through cleaning the building. But they will also use advanced disinfectant sprayers. The sprayers look ike a storm trooper gun and are battery operated. These sprayers are electrostatic, which can be turned on or off. When the electrostatic is in the on position the mist wraps around the chairs and tables.
“When you are standing back spraying, not only does it spray the surface, it charges an electro ecstatically spray that wraps around surfaces and underneath by a couple of inches. They are expensive and are an EPA-approved disinfectant,” said Moore.
Moore said the district has had these types of sprayers for more than a year and a half to help fight the flu.
“We have them at every building, and we have ordered more so we can amp up even more spraying. Most of our custodians have cleaning carts at night,” Moore said. “We plan to have a sprayer on every custodian cleaning cart so they can stay more proficient at disinfecting areas. Our health nurse, Krystal Tijierina, at the high school said she noticed a bit different when we used the sprayer because there were not as many absent students.”
The spray does not drench surfaces and dries in one minute. Most standard disinfectants dry in 10 minutes Crews can spray computers, keyboards, telephones and pencil sharpeners. In classrooms, the custodians will wipe down tables and chairs with standard soap and water. Once they are done cleaning they will spray the disinfect everything.
The hallways will have a lot of signs, such as social distancing warnings and directional arrows.
“The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends making the hallways one way. The principals will figure out the plan on how the traffic will flow,” said Moore.
Moore indicated some hallways are narrower, so it’s difficult to make it a one way.
Social distancing circles will be placed on the ground where kids usually stand. Entrances will be controlled too. There will also be social distancing signs at the softball fields as a reminder to wash your hands and sanitize also wear masks.
Room capacity signs will be posted outside the door with numbers of how many students are in each room daily. The teacher will write on the whiteboard daily with a dry marker of how many students are in classrooms. This will the typical high-school classroom set up.
The middle school will be a little different because desks are smaller. It will be 15 seats per classroom. The A and B schedule means half of the students will come into the school and the other half will work remotely, then rotate.
At the elementary level, third- through fifth-graders will have a mixture of tables that could be put together with kids set in social distancing groups, or they can separate them with tables with students facing in the same direction.
“The kids in the second-grade classrooms have a table where four students sit, so they cannot be separated. We are going to put up desktop shields made of plexiglass,” said Moore.
Butler is kindergarten through second grade. Twombly Elementary School is kindergarten through third. These schools will allow four students to sit at one time with desktop shields. Homyak students in preschool through second grade will also have desktop shields. Third- through eighth-graders will be set up as the middle school and high school.
For the middle school, high school and elementary, custodians will come in at night and day to clean and disinfect. The head custodian will work during the day.
“It will keep the building cleaner and disinfected. One custodian from the evening crew will come in and work with head custodian throughout the day,” Moore said.
Custodians will come in at 9 a.m. cleaning high-touched surfaces such as doors knobs light switches. They will be wiping, and disinfecting using the sprayers, said Moore. The day custodian will be in the building until 6 p.m. helping the night custodians with wiping and disinfecting. Each custodian has an area to clean.
“We are going to hire more sub-custodians that will also come in at night to help, “Moore said.
The bathrooms are safe because they have sinks so the students can wash their hands. The district purchased a pressure washer to clean the bathrooms. A disinfectant chemical will be added to the machine. The crew will come into the bathroom and clean and wipe the toilet and handrails with this machine. It has a built-in wet vacuum so when they are done it turns into the water to rinse. The bathroom will be sprayed and disinfected
“The cleaning machine is touchless, so it also keeps the staff safe. The old method? They would come into with a mop and a bucket and clean everything down,” said Moore.
The sprayer also hits the carpets. The crews shampoo the carpets in the summer break, winter, spring break and holidays. During school, if there is COVID outbreak, the carpet will be cleaned.
The Colorado Department of Education provided guidelines for cleaning school transportation vehicles. Student will be required to wear a mask on board district buses. The bus driver is responsible for wiping and disinfecting the bus along with high-touch surfaces, such as handrails, and windows.
After the high-school and middle-school students are dropped off, the bus will be cleaned. The process repeats after the drivers drop off elementary school students.
“As long as every student has a mask, we can sit two per seat, about 52 students. Depending on the size of the bus and the route, we may be able to sit one per seat. If you sit one per seat, it’s at 80 percent capacity from 65 to 66 students,” Moore said. “The registration is down. So far 260 students are registered to ride. We typically transport 600. The parents could be waiting to see what we do.”
The parents are also responsible to do a health check of their kids before they leave the house for school.