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Arkansas schools prepare cleaning guidelines as on-site learning approaches

"The custodial staff is the first line of defense in the classrooms to fight this,” Timmy McMahan, Conway Public Schools' assistant maintenance supervisor, said.

CONWAY, Ark. — School districts across Arkansas are preparing for the new school year – one that will be unlike any other. 

For Conway Public Schools, those preparations include new cleaning equipment and guidelines.

“The custodial staff is the first line of defense in the classrooms to fight this,” Timmy McMahan, the school district’s assistant maintenance supervisor, said.

According to McMahan, wiping down doorknobs, light switches, and other high touchpoints was a priority for custodians prior to the COVID-19. 

“The day-to-day cleaning will be the same,” he said.

In addition, staff will use newly purchased fogging machines to disinfect campuses each night.

“You simply just turn it on and it sprays a fine mist across every surface,” McMahan said in a demonstration video posted on the district’s Facebook page.

They deploy a disinfectant chemical guaranteed to kill common germs. 

“When applied in a mist, if it dwells on a surface for 10 minutes, it kills COVID; it kills flu; it kills everything that we may come into contact on a daily basis,” McMahan said.

The district bought 25 foggers at a total cost of approximately $30,000.

In addition to nightly use, custodians also plan to fog classrooms during the day while students are out for lunch, recess, or other activities.

“The chemicals we're using are EPA certified,” McMahan said. “They're safe to use. We will not spray around children, but they can enter the room directly after we use them. The stuff we're using to fight this is second to none.”

Staff will spray playground equipment and wipe down lunch tables throughout the day.

Classrooms, offices, and foyers are also equipped with hand sanitizer dispensers.

“This will be checked on a nightly basis after cleaning the classroom,” McMahan said of the dispensers.

McMahan hopes the new measures will provide peace of mind as classrooms and hallways are soon filled for the first time since March.

“I just want people to feel comfortable that we're doing our part to make sure their children are safe to come to school,” he said.