HOLMDEL, NJ - Parents are concerned. Teachers are concerned. Students are concerned. They want to go back to school, but they want to feel safe. Can the two coexist?
The Holmdel Board of Education says, "Yes!"
Contrary to the slower pace of typical school boards, the Holmdel Board of Education just launched a massive investment in student and staff safety. In a news release on Friday, the Holmdel Board of Education announced the plans to mitigate pandemic risks in preparation for re-opening. Here are the details:
Holmdel Township Board of Education has partnered with the top firms in the industry. They hired Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc., Greyhawk Construction Management and Consulting, and Schiller and Hersh Associates, Inc., to conduct a district wide re-occupancy assessment in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and reopening schools in September.
Holmdel Board of Education President Vicky Flynn commented to TAPinto, "The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority. For all stakeholders, this means action, not words. Intelligent schools require the implementation of sound, science based, multi-purpose solutions using the best of technique, equipment and technology. We are doing that."
Throughout the duration of a four-week period, district administration and its consulting team, visited Holmdel High School, W. R. Satz Middle School, Indian Hill Elementary School, Village Elementary School, and the Holmdel Township Board of Education offices to assess the facilities, and develop an outline of strategies for the process of re-occupying the facilities while maintaining the health, safety and welfare of the students, staff, and general public.
“We are proud to support the Holmdel Township Schools in their facility assessment,” said Steve Siegel, Principal at Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc. “They have been very forward-thinking in implementing new strategies, policies and procedures to provide a safer education to our community.”
These strategies include physical measures as well as policies and procedures which were developed under the regulations of the New Jersey State Governor’s Office Executive Orders, the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the New Jersey Department of Education’s Restart and Recovery Plan for Education.
The district will be updating various policies and procedures, and has made preparations to cover considerations including, but not limited to scheduling, athletics, and food services at each school. The primary measures being addressed at this time include:
● Implementing UV-C lighting for disinfecting after hours
● Installing bipolarionization filtration units in HVAC systems
● Installing site signage and parking limitations
● Installing signage at school entries
● Installing thermal temperature detection devices at entries
● Installing physical barriers (such as sneeze guards) at vestibules, in main offices and in nurse offices
● Installing antimicrobial coatings on commonly used surfaces, such as doorknobs, push bars, railings,bathroom fixtures and playground equipment
● Installing directional decals on floors to separate hallways and indicate directions of travel for students, teachers and visitors
● Installing hand sanitizer dispensers in each classroom and key locations
● Adjusting the spacing of classroom and nurse office furniture for physical distancing
● Maintaining new, enhanced cleaning procedures
● Installing urinal partitions in men’s and boy’s restrooms
● Installing automatic paper towel and soap dispensers
● Providing the necessary and appropriate PPE
● Retro-commissioning the District HVAC systems
“We’re doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff,” says Dr. Lee Seitz, Interim Superintendent of Schools. “It is our hope that the strategies we’re taking will reduce the risks of exposure and transmission of COVID-19. The district will continue to provide updates and information as they become available.”
Updates regarding the reopening plans will be provided to the Board at upcoming public meetings in July and August. The Board will schedule a special meeting to approve the reopening plan for submission to the State on August 12, 2020.
"The Holmdel Board of Education is taking the lead and making the investments to ensure that this is professionally sound and expedited for the safety of our students and staff and their parents and caregivers. They demand no less." said Flynn.
Holmdel students, staff and parents can finally start thinking about the future of education with safety front and center.