Local school districts using new cleaning tools, techniques to keep COVID-19 away

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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — As schools prepare for a safe reopening, there’s a heightened focus on sanitizing everything. 

In this pandemic, it’s taken months for districts to build up their stock of protective gear and cleaning products and to develop plans for how to deep clean schools like never before.

New cleaning machines with electrostatic spraying powers are a key piece of the arsenal for the Lee’s Summit School District.

“As we spray, it totally wraps around a surface completely from front to back and on all sides,” said Paul Sharp, Lee’s Summit’s assistant director of facilities.

The facilities staff is bringing on several new tools to help in the fight against COVID-19.

“We are doing everything we can to create the safest possible environment,” said Kyle Gorrell, director of facilities.

Gorrell heads up facilities management, outlining increased cleaning protocol and how the district will respond to coronavirus cases. He’s also the board president of the Missouri School Plant Managers Association, helping districts statewide prepare for what’ll be a uniquely challenging year. 

“What we know is that personal protective equipment, PPE, is always the first line of defense and most important way we can control the spread of the virus,” Gorrell said. “From the facilities perspective, cleaning touch surfaces is our primary job. We will be, at the end of every day, cleaning all touch surfaces in the district.”

From chairs and desks, to floors in high traffic hallways, and every surface inside restrooms, extra attention is being given to how often everything is cleaned and the kinds of products used.

“With kids eating in classrooms, we’re going to have to clean surfaces, disinfect them, then rinse them, so that they’re food safe for kids,” Gorrell said.

The district is setting up isolation rooms for any students or staff that show COVID-19 symptoms at school, and any areas those exposed were in will get extra attention immediately. 

Blasting away germs from a classroom could take as little as five minutes. A full school building deep clean would require a bigger crew and several hours to thoroughly clean.

“Our staff, they care about the kids,” Gorrell said. “They care about keeping it clean and a healthy environment. We’ve done that for the entire history of our district, pre-COVID or now. So it’s great that people now truly understand the importance.”

Lee’s Summit is still working out all the specifics for how COVID-19 cases will be handled and additional steps they’ll take to prevent spread. The school board meets Aug. 6 to finalize those plans.

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