REOPENING UPDATE: Nearly All PPE Is In; Still Waiting On HVAC Results; No Custodial Staff Positions Added; Electrostatic Spraying Systems Purchased

WILMINGTON, MA — At a meeting last week, Wilmington Public Buildings Superintendent George Hooper provided and update on his department’s plans to keep the school buildings clean and sanitized during the 2020-2021 school year in response to COVID-19.

“Routine cleaning and disinfecting will be performed on a daily basis by custodial staff assigned to the building,” said Hooper. “This includes daily cleaning and disinfecting of all classrooms, desks and chairs, office areas, table surfaces, restrooms, floors, emptying trash, and other building areas. All employees performing cleaning will be issued proper PPE as recommended by the CDC.”

All bathrooms will be cleaned and disinfected twice each day, according to Hooper. This will include cleaning all frequently touched fixtures, stalls, and mopping off the floors. All touch surfaces will be wiped down with district supplied disinfectants. If a bathroom is found to be “overly unsanitary during the day,” it will be closed until it can be addressed.

Hooper noted all classrooms will have hand sanitizing stations with a foam hand sanitizer solution certified by the USDA and meeting the FDA and CDC guidelines. Foam hand soap will be available in restrooms throughout each building and next to all classroom sinks.

Safety data sheets on all disinfectants used will be maintained on site per OSHA requirements and copies of all safety data sheets will be made available upon request.

Hooper then discussed several of the pieces of equipment his men and women will be using, noting he building has at least one VICTORY Electrostatic Spraying System, which is a cordless battery sprayer unit. The unit will use Bioesque, a botanical disinfectant nontoxic solution that kills 99.9% of COVID-19 within 4 minutes.

“We’re asking more of our custodial staff than ever before,” responded School Committee member David Ragsdale. “We’re expecting very thorough and frequent cleanings with lots of new products. Have we hired any additional custodians? If it’s the same number of people but we’re asking them to do so much more, how can we ensure that they’ll be properly supported in doing this extremely important work?”

Hooper added that hiring additional custodial staff has been discussed, but no personnel has been hired at this time. Hooper plans on taking a “wait and see” approach and revisit once the school year begins. He noted a great deal of the cleaning and sanitizing each day will take place outside of the school hours.

Hooper noted that he’s still waiting to hear back from the third-party engineering firm that recently evaluated each school building’s HVAC equipment.

“My staff has gone through all our HVAC equipment this summer… We vacuumed them out. Changed filters. Changed belts. Checked operations… Following guidelines, we’re now providing a lot more outside fresh air by opening up outside dampers,” said Hooper. “We’ve completed our go-through of all the equipment. We’re complete on our end. We’re now just waiting to hear the recommendations from our third-party engineer.”

In response to a question from School Committee member David Ragsdale, Hooper clarified that the third-party engineer did not inspect each classroom’s HVAC unit since each unit’s model is identical. Hooper did say his staff cleaned and inspected each one, however.

Assistant Superintendent Paul Ruggiero also provided a brief update on the district’s success in securing PPE for students and staff. Nearly everything that has been ordered — including 49,100 adult masks, 18,000 children’s masks, 7,500 pairs of Nitrile gloves, 600 sanitization stations, and nearly 600 gallons of hand sanitizer — has been received. The district, however, is still waiting on 2,110 tubs of wipes to arrive, but has already received approximately 1,000 tubs.

“We essentially have all the supplies we’ve ordered with the exception of the wipes,” Ruggiero told the School Committee, who noted that additional hand soap and hand sanitizer has been ordered through the Public Buildings Department’s budget. “We’re in good shape and will begin moving some of the PPE out to school buildings this week.”

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