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Episode 43: The Plan for Deep Cleaning, Sanitizing and Meal Service in Schools

An enormous amount of work is underway as we prepare to reopen after schools were dismissed last March due to the pandemic. On this episode of the Supercast, hear about the unique and unprecedented plan for meal service, deep cleaning and sanitizing in our schools as we make every effort to keep everyone as safe as possible.


Audio Transcription

Superintendent Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Today, we're talking about the enormous amount of work that is underway as we prepare to reopen schools this fall, after they were dismissed last March due to the pandemic. We know that there is a lot yet to be decided, but we would like parents, students, and employees to know about the unique and unprecedented plan for deep cleaning, sanitizing and providing meal service in our schools, as we make every effort to keep students, teachers, and staff as safe as possible. We're going to start by speaking with the Director of Custodial and Energy Services, Steve Peart. Steve, welcome.

Steve:
Thank you.

Superintendent:
You've been on the show before.  We have asked you come on one more time. You're considered a friend of the show. So welcome.

I know that you're doing a lot of work preparing for the fall, and we just want to talk with you about some of the cleaning and disinfecting procedures that will be in place and some of the equipment that we've purchased to help keep schools as clean as possible in the fall. I would note that in the spring there was the ability. while students were not in school. to do a lot of the deep cleaning that normally would happen over the summer. From my understanding, we've been able to catch up on a lot of work orders during that time. Is that correct?

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yes, it is. We've done relatively two extra months of summer cleaning that is totally summer cleaning because there were still people occupying the buildings. It still gave us a time to go through  the classrooms with additional thoroughness in the cleaning and disinfecting, all the desks and stuff were cleaned and disinfected. We were able to use that time for getting ready to come back to school. There was a lot to do, but there was also some additional time to take some things off the to-do list.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yes. Tell us about the equipment that has been purchased for the fall. The Board approved some additional equipment for each building.

Steve:
Okay. We have purchased some sprayers that will enable us to go through and spray each area down. Those can be used after school. They're not necessarily for during the day or for when students are present. You may have heard that they're called "misters". They've also been called "foggers". It's just a way of dispensing disinfectant and being able to get into areas that you couldn't normally get into with hand wiping,

Superintendent Godfrey:
I was in a Zoom focus group meeting with fifth graders, and I described how we have a machine that uses fog to clean playground equipment because they wanted to be sure they were able to still go out to recess. And one fifth grader asked, "So does it create a fog around the whole playground that just kind of stays there? So we'd be playing in the fog?" And I explained to him that, no, it just sends the cleaner around the surfaces. And I'm really excited about having that equipment. That means that we would have one per school. Is that correct?

Steve
Yeah, there would be at least one per school. Once all the equipment arrives, there should be at least one per school. Some of the larger buildings are going to have mobile pieces of equipment because they are going to need to clean sports equipment in between uses. Some of those kinds of things will need to be done multiple times a day. This will also enable a head custodian or somebody to go into a restroom, (which, in the past, the restrooms have been cleaned and disinfected after school, which will continue to happen), but there might be times where they need to go in multiple times and just do a quick disinfectant for the restroom during the day.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That will increase the efficiency with which custodians can disinfect surfaces, even during the day.

Steve:
Correct. An example of that is, if you were to go and completely wipe down a restroom with a Reagan, that it might take you a 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the restroom. If you go in and spray, you can cover the area in just a few minutes.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Now I understand that we are looking at using a disinfectant that you don't necessarily wipe away, but that you spray on and it stays on the surface and actually can last for quite a long time.

Steve:
We are in the process of acquiring that particular disinfectant. It is in the process of getting an EPA number. That's a huge process they have to go through to get certified by the EPA saying that it'll be specific dwell times for how long for what type of surfaces it's good for, what type of viruses or bacteria is that it's good for. They're in the process of getting that and that should be happening in the next week or so

Superintendent Godfrey:
Am I correct that this is supposed to last up to 30 days?

Steve:
That's what the company and the chemists are saying ,that it will last up to 30 days. I'm hoping that the EPA comes out and agrees with them because if that's the case, then that will also help.

Superintendent Godfrey:
It would make surfaces a less hospitable environment for the virus too?

Steve:
Yes, I'm assuming that when we get the EPA approval on this, our initial plan is to go through and mist all of the classrooms and all the schools once a week for the first month, then every other week for the second month. And then we will go to once a month later on.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I love that you're looking for additional ways to disinfect beyond the normal routine that we will continue to keep in place. Now Steve, I've visited the warehouse. I've seen the tall shelves and the big boxes. We have lots of paper towels, lots of disinfectant, lots of supplies.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yes. We have ordered truckloads of those supplies. We're anticipating accelerated use as people start to clean desks more often, as they wash their hands more. We are planning on going through additional paper towels and so we purchased much more this year compared to a normal year.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Now, you guys work very hard to be behind the scenes and not to disrupt what's going on during the day. Many people may not realize just how much cleaning is going on in the building.

Steve:
True, the best time to clean is when people aren't in the building. So we come in after school and clean, so we're not disrupting classes. It's hard to run to vacuum around a class. So you do that after, when nobody's around. Same with restrooms. The best time to clean is when people aren't aren't around.

Superintendent Godfrey:
And, additional disinfecting cleaning that will be going on during the day as well. They may see more of the custodian during the day, but it's just a good reminder that there's a lot going on behind the scenes that we may not be aware of.

Steve:
Yes.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Now the schedule we will be on in the fall was not designed around Custodial Services. It was designed around providing time for teachers to structure individual learning for students on Fridays, without students in the building on Fridays. That does create some additional space for custodians to either catch up on some of the maintenance work that may need to be done, that they had to put off because of disinfecting that they did during the week when students are there. But, at the very least, it allows some space for a deep clean and just for some other things to happen at a custodial level.

Steve:
Yeah, we're planning on using Fridays for maintenance and for doing a deep clean. One of the drawbacks of using a lot of disinfectant is it can have a buildup and become sticky. That needs to be removed so we can start fresh for the next week and we don't end up with this sticky disinfectant all over. That's all stuff that we'll be doing on these Fridays.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Great. Well, thanks for everything you're doing to prepare. I know you've been very hard at work, nonstop for a while. You're always hard at work, but especially ever since this started. I just really appreciate your expertise and support in preparing our schools for the fall.

Steve:
Okay. Well, thank you. I appreciate that and appreciate everything that the school administration does.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Now, we wanted to talk with some custodians out in the field about what they're seeing and doing. We're speaking now with Mark Nelson, the head custodian for the building here at the District Office. So, Mark and I get to see each other on a regular basis, or we used to much less. So now, with  the soft dismissal, how are you doing Mark?

Mark:
I'm doing great today. How about you Superintendent?

Superintendent Godfrey:
I'm doing great. Thanks for joining us here. We're still social distancing for this interview over Google Meet. Tell us, you have been a custodian in the dDistrict for how long? Well, if you count my sweeper years, this is my 33rd year.

Superintendent Godfrey:
So Cindy Lopper was topping the charts when you started with Jordan School District.

Mark:
Probably had her in my Walkman and as I did my route each night, yes.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Well, within your years of experience, have you ever seen anything like this from a cleaning and preparation standpoint?

Mark:
No, this is as intense as it gets. We love these kids. We love our staffs. They're family, friends, and neighbors, you know, to be a custodian you've got to care.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I know you're also very aware of what's happening out in the schools because your staff helps out in schools when there's a shortage, when we need some additional coverage.

Mark:
Yes, yes. So we're always doing what we can and lending staff.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Tell me some of the things that you have seen that are being done to increase the level of cleaning and disinfecting that's happening in building.

Mark:
I think we do a great job. We train the same. Every school has the same training. All the things that we doin one building would be done the same in another building because of the training. But as COVID took over, we've had to up that. I'm here at the District Office. I've always cleaned restrooms every two hours because we do not have enough restrooms for all the public and staff that come and use our restrooms. Now we check them hourly to make sure things are getting done. Touch points are crazy. Anywhere you can think, someone touches. If someone stands at your door, they're putting their hands on your doorframe. We wash doorframes, we hit the handles, the drinking fountains, the front doors. It's almost like I could just pop them open and leave them open all day because that's just something we have to hit all day long. That's something that many people may not realize, just how well a custodian gets to know the building and how familiar they become with those touch points. They know where it gets dirty. They know where people's hands are and they're able to focus on those areas to be sure that they're disinfecting.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Yeah.

Mark:
And then, behind the scenes, we're changing filters more regularly. Jordan has an amazing HPAC staff. The guys over there have helped us with so many things, but we maintain a higher level of filtration on our HVAC units throughout our District. We're making sure filters are changed more often over the last 32 years. I'll tell you, custodial work has gone from whatever you feel like cleaning and how you used to do it from learning from your grandmother or your mother or whoever. Now there are best practices. It's a very structured environment we work in. We want people to feel safe in our buildings. We want everyone to feel like where they have to spend their day and work and deal with the public and help the public is clean and safe.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That it is, a good location to be, and they feel safe. Thanks for everything you do, Mark. You're a great support here. And I know, to the schools you and your staff work to support them as well.

We're speaking now with Jared Sprague. I've known Jared for a long time and members of his family for a long time. It seems his whole family works for Jordan School District. We did the earlier Supercast with your brother who let me ride the Zamboni and clean the floors. It's a fun mission as a fun machine. Hey, thanks for joining us today. I know you're really busy. We just want to talk about some of the additional measures that custodians are taking in our schools. First of all, how long have you been a custodian and Jordan School District?

Jared:
I'm going on my 20th year with Jordan School District and enjoyed every minute of it.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Well, we love having you and we love having your family as part of Jordan District. Have you ever seen anything like this?

Jared:
I haven't. This is a different challenge, different openings for us to look at what we should do and where we should go with that. I have not seen anything like this in the Jordan District or anywhere I've been.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Can you describe for parents and employees who are listening some of the enhanced cleaning and disinfecting that will be happening in the fall?

Jared:
We were one of the fortunate schools to have before this whole thing hit the ground, to have one of those electrostatic guns that we have looked at, that the Board has approved to purchase to help us out. Those electrostatic guns we used to go in daily, a couple times and did some disinfecting. But now that our assault pandemic has hit, we are doing more. We've got our high schools where they are dealing with all the sports and these sporting activities and so the kids  can get back. We're getting ready for their games and activities, and they've enhanced the cleaning in the restrooms to hourly and more frequently, if needed.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Those are sometimes referred to as misters or foggers that distribute the disinfectant in a way that wraps around the surface that is being disinfected.

Jared:
Yes. Yes. They're great.

Superintendent Godfrey:
What are some of the other things that are being done and we'll be done in the fall to help make sure that things are cleaned and disinfected for students, once we get everybody back in the building,

Jared:
We are taking measures to go in the restrooms hourly and disinfect them with the electrostatic. Again, in our restrooms, we have gone and we are starting to look at measures to cut down the traffic by every other urinal and brush toilets in the bathrooms. We are going into classrooms and we will be disinfecting more frequently throughout the day. Keeping teachers stocked with chemicals and towels, chemicals and stuff that they need to have. It's a little bit of everything. It sounds like we might look into keeping lockers disinfected more frequently throughout the day with those MREs, lunch rooms, constantly keeping those clean and walking behind kids and find our problem areas and focusing on those. It's a big responsibility, bigger than ever.

Superintendent Godfrey:
How does it feel to have that responsibility for all of the employees and students in that building?

Jared:
You know, I think a lot of us custodians take a lot of pride in what we do. We enjoy being around the kids and the staff and the patrons, you know, we look to protect them in health and safety and even more so in this day, in this time. It's what we live for and it's why are where we are. I just really enjoy doing what I do and try to protect them as if it were one of our own kids. You know, my kid in Jordan School District and it worries me every day. So, I treat it as if it is my kid I'm taking care of.

And so, it makes me feel good to know that things are being taken care of and cleaned up. And the she'll be safe when she returns to school.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Well, I sincerely appreciate the efforts that you and custodians throughout the district are making. I have a high level of confidence in your work and just how conscientious you are and how much you care about taking care of everybody in the building. Thank you.

We're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, find out what meal service will look like in our schools. This fall,

Steve Hall:
I'm Steven Hall, Director of Jordan Education Foundation. In today's challenging and uncertain times, it is more important than ever before to support one another. Here at the Jordan Education Foundation, we invite you to join us in making sure children are not going hungry. Your $10 donation to the Foundation will help us feed one student for a weekend. When food and meals may be very scarce for some, with food and hygiene supplies and the principal's pantries at Jordan School District being depleted and in higher demand than ever before. Every financial contribution made will help us to keep the pantries filled for students who would otherwise go without. The Jordan Education Foundation exists due to the generosity of people who care about kids. If you would like to donate to help children from going hungry, please visit joraneducationfoundation.org, or contact the Foundation at (801) 567-8125. Thank you. Together, we can make a difference.

Superintendent Godfrey:
With us now on the Supercast is Jana Cruz, the Director of Nutrition Services. Jana, welcome.

Jana:
Thank you.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I know a lot of people are asking questions about what things will look like in the fall. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the changes? I've read over your plan and I know that you've thought through every detail, as usual, about what this will look like and what will need to be done to provide lunch safely and in a way that works for the conditions we'll be working under in the fall.

Jana:
Yes. You know our efforts will, of course, continue to ensure safe and healthy meals that meet the needs of our students. All of our meals, we'll start up this year having all the meals be self contained. So they'll also be grab and go, breakfast in a sack. All the lunches will be in a self contained ,styrofoam container with a closed lid. First and foremost, they'll be grab and go to ensure student safety. All they have to do is pick up a meal, not touch anything else. Secondly, it will also free up some of our teams out in the schools so that those team members can be assisting in other ways, with assuring that students sanitize their hands, as they enter lunch service lines, and as they leave the cafeterias, helping assist with the overall efficiency of the flow of lines, assist with some social distancing that will need to take place.

Superintendent Godfrey:
And that's been a question for some people. How are you going to maintain social distancing and not have the line go a mile down the road?

Jana:
Part of it is that we'll be able to move kids through more rapidly because of the way you've structured a meal distribution. We believe with the grab and go meals, it will be an extremely efficient process. All the students will do is enter the line. The lines will be marked clearly, with signs, social distancing markers on the floor. Then they'll just need to pick up a styrofoam container. When they go by the point of sale, they will just have their student ID card out and it will be scanned quickly by a lunch clerk or a cashier so that there's no contact, no touching key pads. And yes, we believe the lines will flow very efficiently.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Grab your meal, scan your card. Yes. Have a seat. Then head out to the playground or head back to class, whichever. Oh, we forgot. Sanitize your hands one more time before you head back to the classroom or out to the playground.

Superintendent Godfrey:
On your way in and on your way out.

Jana:
Yes. Yes.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Now, what about some of the salad bar options? The self-serve options are the changes being made there.

Jana:
We will open up again with only self-contained meals, no salad bars or no buffet type meal service at all. And then, as soon as we move forward, we kind of had thought in our own department, we will revisit or be prepared for around Thanksgiving time to make decisions that are applicable for what is happening around us.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Right. We're going to have to adjust these plans throughout the year. And I think part of the stress is just anticipating the school year coming. We don't know exactly what it will be like. This is something we've never done before. It's another phase. And so I'm actually very eager to see how things go and then make adjustments as necessary. But I appreciate how thorough and in depth you've been in preparing for this.

Jana:
Thank you. I work with a wonderful team and I agree with you. I think, as always, the greatest stress in all this is the worrying and the planning. It will be nice to move forward and just get the job done in the best way we all know how.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I really have thought of every detail when I read over the plan. We talked about the self serve and the buffet style and salad bars not being in place in the same way they were. You're even going to be handing a milk to a student.  I'm putting it on their containers so they aren't reaching in for their own milk. And what are the milk choices? Just for those listening, who may not know.

Jana:
There's white milk to start out, they'll just be white and chocolate. We'll probably take strawberry off the menu just to kind of streamline things, knowing that it will go back on the menu as soon as we can reasonably do that.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Adjusting to the "grab and go" format like you had to in the spring. Are there any new menu items that, students can expect to see? And are there any old favorites that may have to wait to return to the menu?

Jana:
Well, the menus will look very similar to what we always do. There will be some ala carte type items still, of course, a favorites, chicken nuggets, chicken ring things, fries, but there will, of course be a lot of our totally homemade options that students are used to is lasagna, mashed potatoes and gravy and Turkey. So the only thing that will change due to the efficiency and the speed that these lines need to flow. Secondary schools that normally run anywhere from seven to nine lines. We will cut those lines down to four choices and those choices, at each site will choose from patterns that we offer them to include what they feel are the best four choices each day for their student body. And we're doing that again. So we know that we need to pull some of those staff members that would normally run lines off to do other tasks, to assure students are sanitizing correctly, to assure some social persistency, to keep in stock, you know, with the meal containers. So we believe we can run in the secondaries three to four lines, depending on the size of the school, and do so efficiently.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I love the way you're restructuring things. It makes a lot of sense. Now, let me go back. Are the chicken ring things, the actual technical term?

Jana:
It is, that's actually what's on the purchase order and it's a Tyson product, very popular.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Well, when I get the chance, I'm going to go out and try some chicken rings because they sound like something. I'm thrilled with the hard work you've put into planning for the fall. I have total confidence in the work that you and your staff are doing. AndI know that students are looking forward to coming back and having those great meals in the cafeteria and seeing their friends and nutrition services.

Jana:
Thank you. Thank you very much.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Stay with us when we come back, we'll talk about the lengths Jordan School District is going to, to purchase personal protective equipment for employees.

Sandra Reisgraf:
Do you want to know what's going on in Jordan School District, get updates on the latest information that could impact you and your child, or just find an uplifting story about the good things happening in schools throughout the district, check out our website at jordandistrict.org, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter at JordanDistrict. Let's connect.

Superintendent Godfrey:
This segment of the Supercast. We're happy to welcome our Director of Purchasing Kurt Prusse. Thanks for joining us.

Kurt:
My pleasure. Good to be here.

Superintendent Godfrey:
We're buying a lot of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees to get ready for the fall and Kurt, as Director of Purchasing, you have been at the center of that. Tell us about some of the things that have been purchased all of this, of course, under Board direction, because of the volume that we're buying.

Kurt:
You know, under the direction of a great Superintendent and the Board, they're very cognizant of Personal Protective Equipment. And so they've allocated those funds for things like cloth masks for the employees, having a couple three to them each. Hand sanitizer is another important item that they've invested in, all sorts of hand sanitizer, anywhere from a gallon to half gallon to 16 ounce containers that can be put up the teacher's desk or people's individual workplaces. Face shields for those that don't want to have a mask, but not to be able to communicate with students or the public. Plexiglass shields, both portable, all have been authorized. We've been looking into those different options and  learning a lot about the difference between a polypropylene plexiglass and other types of plastic materials. So, it's been a learning experience for all of us here in Purchasing for a lot of those items.

Superintendent Godfrey:
I do want to get in a little bit so that people understand the process. We are starting off with a gallon of hand sanitizer in every office, in every classroom. What were some of the specs that you use to determine what hand sanitizer you would purchase?

Kurt:
The CDC has a requirement and I think maybe it's even the FDA, but the Health Departments require a 70% alcohol, an isopropyl alcohol content or a 60% minimum of ethanol alcohol and that's part of the requirements. And so,  we had to meet those minimum requirements, and we also didn't want to have any perfumed or scented hand sanitizer.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Now, how many gallons have we ordered?

Kurt:
The Board authorized us to do 5,000 gallons. That would cover almost every classroom and office space and have a little bit left over.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Okay. So we'll cover every classroom, every office space, and we have some other sizes that will be available. Now, the plexiglass. There are two different types of plexiglass that we are ordering. Tell us about those two different types.

Kurt:
There are 4' x 4' plexiglass sheets that are intended to hang from the ceiling tiles. They are intended for office spaces. For teachers' desks they are given, an option. The teacher has that option of something that is stationary and in place or a three sided and molded, about 30" x 34". And then 8.5 or 6.5 inch six sides that are molded to sit onto a desk that can be moved from place to place pretty easily and gives them a little more flexibility, but offers them enough protection so that they can work with the student one-on-one, if they need to. And these are the type of plexiglass structures that you might see sitting on the counter at a doctor or dentist office or at a retail outlet.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Exactly.

Kurt:
And we gave teachers the choice of having one or the other or both, depending on their classroom setup and their level of comfort. And so we've ordered accordingly to whatever requests came back from the teachers in the schools and what they needed.

So we have quite a few of each and actually, the molded ones were more popular than the sheets, which surprised me, because it gives some flexibility. People can move that around the classroom as needed, and assistants can use them when they're working with students.

The face shields allow for some flexibility, if there's instruction, particularly in the younger grades, but throughout school, when it's important to be able to see a teacher's mouth and see how they're mouthing out words and sounding things out. So the face shield will allow some flexibility there.

Superintendent Godfrey:
That's correct. Well, thanks for the thorough process, getting the best value and the best products out there and in very large quantities. So thanks for all your work Kurt.

Kurt:
You're welcome. Thank you.

Superintendent Godfrey:
Thank you for joining us on the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see out there.

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