PLAINFIELD, NJ — Coordinator Sean Sutton presented an overview of practices put in place to keep Plainfield Public Schools facilities clean and safe from COVID-19 at Tuesday's school board meeting. Students had returned for in-person instruction on Monday, November 9, but are scheduled to return to remote learning this week.
Sutton said his department started with training as far back as November 2019, and he and his staff met with Julia Wells, an epidemiologist from the New Jersey Department of Health. Wells visits the district annually, Sutton noted, to discuss best practices for the upcoming winter season, and to impart knowledge on trends in communicable diseases.
In her most recent visit, Wells spoke about COVID-19 because she had concerns about the virus migrating to the United States, and what its impact could be.
Sutton said as the virus officially hit the U.S. earlier this year, additional training was done with NAETI (National Asbestos & Environmental Training Institute), a top environmental health and safety training center in New Jersey, and with Atra Janitorial that provided custodial supplies.
Sutton proceeded to run through a litany of tasks undertaken by his staff to disinfect the district's schools, noting a big focus on dwell times in cleaning bathrooms and using chemicals.
There will be what Sutton called retraining over the next two weeks, as staff will not be in district. "Everyone, every single employee, from the secretary to the supervisor, to maintenance to grounds, everyone is required to have that training, so that we're all on the same page."
He stated every school in the district has at least two backpack sprayers, and custodial staff have sanitation guns. Classrooms are cleaned nightly, and the routine includes an EPA and CDC approved, low-impact chemical that properly saturates surfaces with a four-minute dry time.
Other initiatives include:
- The purchase of ionizers to place on rooftop units; for those schools without a rooftop unit, they are placed in the unit ventilator (univent) systems to provide free-flowing clean air.
- The use of disinfectant microbial seals that prevent the transmission of diseases by way of shoes — in addition to making floors look shiny.
- Equipment that was purchased with the help of C.A.R.E.S. Act funds to help complete tasks at a quicker rate.
- The use of Restroom Alert, a way to alleviate fears of staff; a code is sent by phone to custodial team members with comments on what needs to be addressed in bathrooms. The process will be expanded to other areas in schools at a later date.
- A PSA is almost finished, and will communicate to the public what the department is doing to combat COVID-19.
- Banners and floor markers indicating mask requirements and social distancing rules have been placed in schools across the district.
- If there are any identified COVID-19 cases, custodial staff would conduct swab tests for the virus in all areas that may have been compromised.
- Duct cleaning has been done by an outside contractor.
- Logs are kept on how often filters are changed, and they are tagged each time they are serviced.
- A quarterly newsletter on the department's ongoing progress will be produced, and will be placed on the website.
To see Sutton's detailed overview, watch the video below.
Editor's Note: TAPinto Plainfield mistakenly identified NATA instead of NAETI as the training vendor.
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