Custodial, technology teams on front lines of B-P’s COVID-19 preparation (March 13)

Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Broadalbin-Perth community at this time, district leaders are taking proactive measures to prepare for the spread of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. While teachers will be spending March 16-17 planning to continue the education process during a potential school closure, members of the district’s custodial and instructional technology teams are working behind the scenes.

Cleaning and disinfecting ‘high-touch’ surfaces

Broadalbin-Perth has infectious disease protocols in place and has been taking steps, such as increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting throughout school facilities, to minimize the spread of all viruses and bacteria.

“We have purchased all the disinfecting supplies we can order, including sanitizing ionizers like the ones you may have seen being used on airplanes,” said Superintendent of Schools Stephen Tomlinson. “We are closely following the NYS Department of Health guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting classrooms, including making our own disinfecting solution based on DOH recommendations.”

While classes are canceled for students Monday and Tuesday and teachers are making alternative learning plans, all other available staff will be thoroughly cleaning the school buildings and buses, placing greater emphasis on cleaning “high-touch” surfaces, such as desks, door knobs, handrails and sink faucets.

“We are doing our very best to keep the building as clean as possible, but there’s no way we can protect against every single thing,” said Mike Carney, director of operations and safety. “But even more important than what we’re doing is individual personal hygiene. We can disinfect a surface, but if someone isn’t using proper personal hygiene, our efforts won’t be as effective. It’s so important that people cough and sneeze into their elbows or armpits, and wash their hands frequently.”

Technology staff disinfecting, making plans for remote learning

B-P’s custodians aren’t alone in their efforts to disinfect surfaces to reduce the spread of germs.

“Our standard procedure is to utilize cleaning wipes to fully sanitize our shared devices,” said Stephen Gennett, B-P’s director of informational technology. “The majority of our teachers sanitize their shared devices — including laptops, tablets — daily throughout the year, and the Clorox-based wipes we use are 99% effective in eliminating all types of viruses and bacteria.”

The IT department is also working with building leaders to identify students who do not have access to internet-enabled technology at home and they are prioritizing putting devices in those students’ hands as soon as possible. Members of the IT team are disinfecting all devices before giving them to students, and will quarantine and disinfect returned devices outside the school buildings before putting them back in general circulation.

Making sure all students have access to technology at home is a priority because the district is making plans to be able to continue the learning process in the case that schools have to be closed for more than a day. 

“It’s important that we be able to continue the learning process, even if our schools are closed, because state law requires public schools to be in session 180 days every year,” said Tomlinson said. “It’s impossible to know what’s going to happen in the future, but if we can avoid having to bring our students back for additional days of school over the summer, we’re going to do everything within our control to keep that from happening.”

B-P will be holding professional development days March 16-17 to prepare educators to teach all students, pre-K through grade 12, through technology or other means.

“We have already begun providing professional development for our teachers to make sure they can continue to lead the learning process remotely,” Gennett said. “We’re also planning to be able to provide remote services and technology support for the entire organization in the case of a school closure.”