With over 80% of the student body attending in-person classes during a raging pandemic, Longmeadow Public Schools has had to implement a rigorous new sanitizing procedure to keep students, faculty, and staff safe..
According to Assistant Principal Mr. Paul Dunkerley, the Massachusetts Department of Education provided the basic guidelines. From there Mr. Dunkerley and other administrative staff created protocol for the custodial staff. This included teaching the custodians how to use the new electrostatic sprayers that administer hospital-grade sanitizer, how to properly fit their masks and gloves, wiping protocol, and how to effectively sterilize different areas of the school. They were taught this over the course of three separate training sessions, one off-site and two on-site. In addition to the electrostatic sprayers, hospital-grade sanitizer, and PPE worn by the staff at all times, other supplies were needed.
Returning to school, students may notice there are wipes in every classroom and over 150 containers of hand sanitizer in the building. All of these products are EPA certified for use against the coronavirus. To afford all of this protection, the school used funding set aside by the The Coronavirus Relief Fund (part of the larger National Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) for COVID-19 related expenses.
After the protocols, the training, and the equipment wrangling was all finished there came the task of keeping a school clean with a new crop of students coming in twice a week. To handle this, Tuesday and Wednesday nights are now far more labor intensive for the custodial staff. During that time they deep clean the entire school. Every surface students touch over two days gets sprayed with electrostatic cleaners then wiped down. High-touch areas, like light switches and door handles, are focused on even more.
While the major cleaning goes on at night the custodial staff also sanitizes rooms twice a day while students are still in the building. After the Friday night scrub the school is closed for the weekend. This provides any potential virus “dwell time.” Dwell time is the 24 hours it takes for the virus to die on its own.
And if all these precautions weren’t enough, LHS’s ventilators are at the state mandated Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 13 and 14. A MERV rating shows how well an air filter is working.
Make sure to say thank you to our custodial staff because all of this sounds truly exhausting.