Catholic schools in the Diocese of Harrisburg continue to prepare for the start of the school year and this week administration and custodial staff from all 36 schools in the Diocese participated in the Custodial Considerations during Covid-19 training. This training, presented by High Environmental Health and Safety Consulting Ltd., reviewed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations regarding proper cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing of facilities to prevent the spread of this virus.
“This training was perfect for administrators and custodial staff because it provided a clear framework for us to use to develop comprehensive cleaning plans,” said Sr. Danielle Truex, principal of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School in Lancaster. “The key takeaways guided us to determine our particular facility needs, choose the most effective and safe products for different types of cleaning and disinfecting, and use those products in a manner that maximizes their effectiveness against the coronavirus.”
“I thought they did a good job relaying to us what has been found as a result of Covid since March, and how we should continue to keep moving forward as we prepare to start school,” said Nicole Nirosky, physical education teacher and director of development for Holy Trinity Catholic School in York. “The biggest takeaway for me was if you were going to clean, make sure you were doing it right and doing it well.”
Steve High, MPH, MS, CIH, CSP, ARM, EMT, presented the training. He explained that the Covid-19 virus is primarily spread through the air, but it can also be spread by touching a surface that contains some of the virus particles.
High explained during the training that organizations should consider how they can reduce the number of surfaces being touched during the day, as a means of reducing the potential spread. Good, regular handwashing was also recommended during the training.
In addition to covering the basics of cleaning, High also provided recommendations on various disinfecting products and guidance for safely using these products.
“Follow all the labeling instructions to a T,” said High. “Also consider the contact time. The material has to remain wet on the surface for a specific amount of time in order to work.” He added that there are 473 products listed on the EPA website that are approved for Covid-19 disinfecting.
Truex and other school administration said they found the training valuable as they are putting the final touches on their back-to-school plans.
“Our cleaning plan will follow the practical and evidence based suggestions shared with us through this training. Specifically, it will address what gets cleaned, by whom, how frequently, and with which product, in a systematic and comprehensive manner. Creating cleaning routines may not seem like particularly exciting work; however, this is foundational to our ability to reopen so that we can continue our mission of Catholic education,” said Truex.
“With so many unknowns out there about Covid it is great to hear things that we should be focusing on as well as questions from other people that were attending the training,” said Nirosky. “Here at Holy Trinity we have already established an extensive plan that we’ve been working on since May. After attending the training, we will be reviewing this plan and seeing where we can add in some of the pointers and suggestions mentioned and reviewing things that we may have missed.”
“This required training for our schools really helped our staff understand how to clean properly during the age of Covid-19. It was an important step for our schools in our preparation for the school year. I am grateful for the daily evidence of the commitment and professionalism of the staff in our Catholic schools,” said Daniel Breen, secretary for education and superintendent of Catholic schools.
All Catholic schools in the Diocese have developed health and safety plans as they prepare to welcome students back. These plans are based on the extensive guidelines developed by a task force for the Diocesan Education Office and can be found online at www.hbgdiocese.org/catholic-schools.
By Rachel Bryson, The Catholic Witness