Physical Plants (Covid)
Two initial surveys were conducted asking about the reopening of schools and student attendance: the first survey indicated that about 70 percent of parents wanted their students to attend in-person school, while 27 percent were uncertain, and 3 percent said they would not send their children to school. In the second survey, conducted on July 13, 2020, 10.5 percent of parents said that even with a parameter of 6 feet of social distancing, they would not send their children back to school. Because approximately 26 percent of families said they weren’t sure if they’d return to in-person learning, the District presumed that about 75 percent of families would return to school, if using the six feet of social distancing. Therefore, we began analyzing the physical plants for six feet of social distancing.
The Director of Buildings and Grounds, Mr. Tim Persson, and his team went through each building and each classroom to assess square footage as well as the numbers of desks the space could accommodate with both three (3) and six (6) feet of social distancing. When the data was harvested, we realized that committing to six feet of social distancing would only be possible if using a hybrid model, and accordingly that’s what Hopkinton committed to in an effort to maximize our return rates and commit to the highest level of safety.
Respiratory droplets and aerosols carried through the air are what spread the COVID-19 disease. HVAC systems in all of our buildings, which are designed to circulate fresh air into the buildings, were assessed by a professional HVAC company. Each school meets the requirement for fresh air flow, and the roof units have all been replaced at a cost of $60,000 over the past three years, long before the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Prior to reentry, each building was both cleaned and disinfected--there being an important difference. Naturally, classrooms are only truly disinfected until they are reinhabited, at which time human germs become present in the setting. The plan for the start of the school year will be to disinfect every occupied classroom every day. Using CARES Act monies, the District will hire additional custodial staff to ensure this is possible. The district has purchased Protexus Sprayers, two for each building, ten in all. These sprayers quickly and effectively eliminate up to 99.9% of all germs, they leave no residue, and they are not harmful to humans.
Signage will be placed around the district to assist students and faculty with social distancing, healthy hygiene, and PPE. Plexiglass has also been placed in offices and other settings to further ensure adult and student safety.
The District has defined roles and responsibilities for cleaning designated areas, with guidelines for how frequently bathrooms and touch points will be cleaned throughout the day. Because we have now committed to an every-other-day model, each classroom will be disinfected nightly. Ample disinfectants and other cleaning supplies and solutions have been secured as well as protective equipment for custodial staff.