Waelder Independent School District have taken steps to combat common classroom diseases and infections, such as the flu and MRSA, by partnering with Lubbock-based cleaning company GermBlast.
“We provide for Waelder a high-level disinfection process, and it’s routine, a lot like pest control,” GermBlast CEO Rodney Madsen said.
Waelder ISD superintendent Jon Orozco spoke on the importance of hiring this company.
“When the board sat and looked at overall community health, to facilitate students not getting sick and not having to stay home and not having to miss work or school, I think it’s a win-win for the community and I think it’s a win-win for the district that we partnered up with GermBlast,” Orozco said.
GermBlast’s role with Waelder ISD isn’t to just clean problem areas. The company will also routinely have check-ins with the district, making sure they’re implementing safe practices in order to prevent illnesses.
“Forward-thinking superintendents like Mr. Orozco understand that prevention is the key to reducing the number of kids who are ill throughout the year,” Madsen explained. “If you wait for the flu to hit, it’s essentially too late because people would already be sick. They’ll have the bacteria and the virus and few days later, they’ll be sick. The flu has a 10-day incubation period. By being proactive, you can significant reduce the kiddos who are sick.”
Orozco noted that any missed school days for students can be detrimental to their learning. Other secondary effects include parents or guardians having to miss work to take care of their kids, which, according to the Waelder ISD superintendent, can be “financially devastating” to households.
The first step that’s been taken has been an initial cleaning, where GermBlast workers clean every surface, every touchpoint and all of the sports equipment through various EPA-approved mists and chemicals.
“Once we’ve done that and everything is dry, we follow that up with a ‘shield’ period of 90 days,” Madsen said.
As a part of their contract, GermBlast is expected to come to Waelder for a routine cleaning every 90 days, or about four times a year, for the next three years. GermBlast trains Waelder ISD staff while also providing flyers and other forms of information for parents and guardians.
“We put things out of the district for students too,” Madsen said. “Posters, hand sanitizers with messaging, [everyone] in the community is being given information repeatedly over time on infections and preventing infections to change behavior.”
Flyers have already been printed and passed out in both English and Spanish.
“The nature of our business and the population that we serve, we had to long ago make sure that our communication is in Spanish,” Madsen said. “All the flyers that we provide for schools are in both languages. The training videos are also done in both languages. Typically, we’ll in advance find out, for example, if we’re doing a custodial training, we’ll find out if they’re English speaking or primarily in Spanish, we’ll have somebody who is both English and Spanish speaking.”
Orozco believes that the school board’s decision to combat germs instead of reacting to outbreaks will ultimately be a great decision for Waelder.
“We wanted to take a forward pro action because unfortunately GermBlast gets called when a flu breaks and school shuts down four, five days to seven days because they got to get people to clean it or they got to led the germ expire for whatever lifespan it is,” Orozco said. “We went the proactive way.”