Woodland District custodial and maintenance staff prepare schools for distance learning

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Although campus sites in the Woodland School District will be free of students for at least the start of distance learning, some administrative staff and teachers will be on campus when online instruction starts on Monday.

The district’s maintenance and custodial staff are prepared for this return. They have been continuously working to ensure that school staff will be safe and that campuses will eventually be ready for students’ return when the district moves into phases two and three of their five-phase plan.

“In the past few weeks, we’ve just been preparing the schools to operate safely when the staff comes back,” said Nick Baral, the director of maintenance and operations. “We did have some time in May when we were able to get to some of my backlog work. Our staff did a few LED lighting retrofits in a few common areas in the district.”

Baral mentioned that part of the reasoning behind staff continuing to work was so that the district could keep a presence on campuses and keep vandalism down.

“We wanted to keep the staff there, so people know that we didn’t just walk away from them,” Baral explained. “I spoke to my counterparts in other districts that completely sent staff home for weeks on end, and they came back to a lot of vandalism.”

With only some school staff returning, Baral says the student restrooms will be opened, ensuring there are enough adequate sinks available for handwashing.

“I’m confident that school sites are safe,” Baral added. “The custodial and maintenance staff have worked through this whole thing, and we’ve had no issues. We are putting our cleaning protocols above what the Center for Disease Control requires during this phase one by doing more frequent cleanings.”

For phases two and three, the district is exploring either renting or purchasing handwashing stations. They have also reached out to vendors and custodial companies if additional staffing is needed to help maintenance staff keep levels of service up.

“We have done our homework already,” Baral said. “We’ve made connections with vendors and companies, and we should be able to move pretty rapidly when we are called upon.”

Baral estimates the current district stockpile of personal protection equipment is in fair shape.

There are around 4,000 bottles of hand sanitizer available, with a similar number on order, 2,000 face shields, between 2,000 and 2,500 disposable gowns for physical education staff, and 700 thermometers, so that there is one in every classroom in the district.

Five cloth masks were distributed to every staff member returning to the school site, and there is a 60-day supply of student-sized disposable masks from the state and a certain number of student cloth masks as well.

“A lot of that personal protection equipment isn’t going out because we don’t have in-person learning,” Baral mentioned during last week’s special school board meeting. “So we have the bare minimum. But if we went back to school tomorrow, we’d fine for the first ninety days, and we’d be able to resupply with not much problem.”

According to Superintendent Tom Pritchard, the district has already installed Plexiglas at every school site office for any interface with the public. Baral and his staff have also checked every sink and toilet, along with supplies in the bathrooms. All schools have also completed their typical back-to-school orders.

“I really appreciate the thought and preparedness you have to bring that information to us,” said board Vice President Jake Whiteaker, during last week’s special meeting. “It makes me feel confident that we are ready to address those needs as they come.”