BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – Very soon, you will see yellow buses back on the road, taking kids back and forth to school.
As parents and school leaders both prepare for the return to the classroom, WECT is taking a behind the scenes look at what protections are in place at each school district in our region for the 2021-2022 school year.
If you walk the halls of Town Creek Elementary, many classrooms already have green tags hanging from their doors, signifying the classroom has been sanitized. While it’s easy to see the hand sanitizer stations at each entryway, touchless watercoolers in place of water fountains and COVID-19 signage, most people don’t see the deep cleaning the school undergoes each day because custodians are fogging all of the common areas after hours.
District leaders have hired an additional custodian for each school to help deep clean the school each night with the electrostatic sprayer and clean touch points and restrooms more often.
The electrostatic sprayer resembles a mix between a power drill and a watergun, and vaporizes disinfectant into a fine mist. Desks, classrooms, school buses and all common areas are treated each night once staff and students leave for the day. The device is one of Brunswick County School District’s secret weapons for keeping kids safe this school year.
They’re currently in the process of creating a protocol to sanitize playground equipment, which was closed to students last year.
“Each day starts fresh. That’s what our goal is to do, that each area starts clean and fresh each day,” said Facilities Director Larry Smith. “It’s close to a normal school day that they’re used to. Much more normal than last year.”
This year, school staff will not be taking temperatures of students, per new guidance from the CDC. While plexiglass partitions are set up in areas like the front office, facilities officials are only setting them up in teacher’s classrooms if they’re requested.
Key parts of the school day, like lunch, are a little different too at some schools. At Town Creek Elementary, only 5th graders will eat in the cafeteria. The benches are marked with green tape, allowing three students to a table. The setup is designed so each child faces the same direction when they remove their mask to eat lunch.
All students and staff are required to wear a face covering while they’re at school, regardless of their vaccination status.
“They are wearing masks but its being evaluated at the end of each month and hopefully we will get to the point they wont have to wear a mask while they’re in school,” added Smith.
Ms. Eubanks teaches Town Creek’s EC class and says the district has been very intentional in its plans to keep schools open for in-person learning. From mandatory distancing to teachers regularly wiping down surfaces in their classrooms, the goal is to not let COVID-19 eclipse the school year.
“I’m excited because we’re getting more normalcy back,” said EC teacher Emily Eubanks “We realize we have COVID and we have to address that but not making it our main focus — remembering the reason we’re here is to educate the kids and help them have a great school year.”
It takes a village to make good on the district’s theme of this fall: Getting Back to Business, after all the region has faced.
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