08/21/20: Facilities Health & Safety Measures, Improving Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality, Cleaning and Disinfecting, Training Custodial Staff, Dispensing Hard Sanitizer, Procuring Personal Protection Equipment and Cleaning Supplies, Safeguarding Access to the Campuses, Site-Specific Plans for Distance Learning

TO: Board of Education
FROM: Randall Booker, Superintendent
Pete Palmer, H1 Construction Manager
Michael Brady, H1 Program Coordinator
DATE: August 21, 2020

Although the start of the 2020-21 school year will follow a distance-learning model, the District’s facilities team is preparing for the eventual return of students and staff to all six school sites. In addition to following the State’s re-opening guidelines concerning community health and social distancing, the District is strictly adhering to the Environmental Protection Agency’s and the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines concerning ventilation, cleaning, disinfection, and safeguarding of school facilities. To ensure that these EPA and CDC guidelines are implemented as fully as possible, the District has been working with two certified environmental hygiene consultants, Milani & Associates and Enviro-STAR Inc, to develop school-site-specific cleaning and disinfection plans and schedules. These health and safety measures, intended to minimize the potential spread of Covid 19, are summarized below.  

Improving Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality

To increase ventilation and improve air quality, the District is installing “MERV 13” air filters in all District buildings (except in the new STEAM building, which is discussed below). These filters remove a range of particles and pathogens from the air. Also, the District is confirming that its ventilation systems maximize the amount of fresh, outside air that is brought inside.

In the STEAM building, the state-of-the-art ventilation system (Dedicated Outside Air System, or “DOAS”) has been upgraded with a “bipolar ionizer” that kills pathogens. The District is exploring the feasibility of retrofitting the ventilation systems in other buildings throughout the District with this same pathogen control system.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

When students return to campus, the District will use two EPA-approved disinfectant solutions (TB-Cide Quat and PurTab) to thoroughly clean classrooms, offices, and restrooms. In addition, where there is a confirmed or suspected positive case of Covid 19, the District will use a hand-held, disinfecting UVC germicidal light (TruClean-400) that kills pathogens.

The District is exploring the options for cleaning classroom surfaces between the AM and PM cohorts at the elementary schools, and between individual class periods at the middle and high schools. The options include the use of disposable disinfectant wipes or a mild soap solution in sprayer bottles. The District will continue to work with the Health & Safety Committee, which is made up of parents, educators, school nurses, and administrators, to evaluate products and methods.

Training Custodial Staff

All District custodial staff will complete training on safe and effective use of TB-Cide Quat and PurTab, including specific training on pandemic and post-pandemic cleaning and disinfecting. Also, the District is following “best practices” from a Covid 19 resource guide that is being used in many Alameda County school districts, and that includes infectious disease preparedness and response guidelines.

Dispensing Hand Sanitizer

Teachers and others in the school community have asked about adding portable hand washing stations throughout the District. The Health & Safety Committee considered the feasibility of these stations and expressed unanimous preference for the use of hand sanitizer dispensers instead. In summary, there are already a sufficient number of bathroom and classroom sinks available for hand washing, and hand sanitizer is an effective complement. Sanitizer takes roughly two seconds to apply (compared with 20 seconds to thoroughly wash hands), so there is less likely to be a back up at sanitizing stations, and less likely to be an issue with social distancing while in line. Also, hand washing stations present significant maintenance issues with managing grey water, and preventing vandalism during non-school hours.  

Procuring Personal Protection Equipment and Cleaning Supplies

The District has a supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including the following. The items indicated with an asterisk (*) have been or will be provided by the State, in quantities based on District enrollment.

  • 1000 KN95 masks
  • 6488 disposable surgical masks*
  • 5811 cloth masks for children* 
  • 724 face shields* 
  • roughly 50 protective eyewear 
  • more than 10,000 disposable gloves
  • 84 gallons of hand sanitizer* 
  • Approximately 200 plexiglass shields
  • 26 non-contact infrared thermometers*
  • PurTab and TB-Cide Quat disinfectants for at least four months of in-person instruction 

Many of these supplies have been distributed to the head custodians of the school sites, who are responsible for on-site distribution. These materials are in limited supply, and all staff are expected to have their own basic PPE and take their temperatures at home.

Safeguarding Access to the Campuses

When students and staff return to the school sites, access to each campus will be restricted. All students and staff will be required to complete daily, in-home screenings and temperature checks before coming to school. Anyone with a fever or symptoms of Covid-19 will not be permitted on campus.

Teachers and others in the school community have asked about requiring temperature checks as students and staff arrive on campus each day. The Health & Safety Committee considered this and decided against it for a range of reasons, including: privacy issues; possible stigmatization of those who have an elevated temperature; the high rate of false positives; the likelihood of long lines and issues with social distancing while in line; and the fact that carriers can be asymptomatic, so a normal temperature may give a false sense of security.

With limited exceptions, the campuses will be closed to parents, volunteers, visitors, and others during the school day. To this end, the District is evaluating all campus access points. Also, the District will post more than 160 signs with health and safety information across the school sites, including but not limited to signs at each entrance. One sign, already in use on the magnolia Campus, follows:

Site-Specific Plans for Distance Learning 

Principals and teachers have asked about site-specific plans for cleaning, disinfecting, ventilation, and protecting indoor air quality now, before students return to campus but while at least some staff are on site to effect distance learning. The facilities team will meet individually with principals over the next couple of weeks to discuss how many staff are working at each site, and how many and which rooms are in use, to develop these site-specific interim plans.