Janesville72.7°

Workers sanitize Walworth schools

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Kayla Bunge
October 23, 2009
— Workers have spent the past three days cleaning the Walworth elementary and middle school building after it closed this week because more than 30 percent of students fell ill with the flu.

"We're double and triple cleaning again," said District Administrator Pam Knorr.


On Monday, about 170 students, six teachers and three teacher aides called in sick or were sent home sick. On Tuesday, school district and county health officials closed the schools for the rest of the week to stop the spread of illness.


Workers are using a strong chemical—Concentrate 118 from Elkhorn Chemical and Packaging—which claims to kill 99.99 percent of common bacteria and specified viruses, including influenza. They also are using other cleaners and sanitizers to clean and disinfect the school building, Knorr said.


"We're just massively cleaning everything, everywhere," she said. "Any areas where hands could touch—lockers, tabletops, sinks, pencil sharpeners, doorknobs."


Workers are cleaning not only surfaces but also classroom supplies students and teachers might use, Knorr said. They also have cleaned air filters and vents to ensure air is properly purified in the building, she said.


The district is employing its regular maintenance crew to clean and disinfect the building from top to bottom, and workers were expected to finish the job late Thursday, Knorr said.


"It's just been nonstop for three solid days," she said.


Cleaning and disinfecting a large school building is a big job—and it costs money, Knorr said, not only in man-hours and elbow grease but also in chemicals and supplies.


"We don't ever clean to that degree on a daily basis," she said.


Installing hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the building also has cost extra money, Knorr said.


But district officials believe it's worth the price.


"It's just sparkling," Knorr said. "You can just almost smell the cleanliness."


The building is scheduled to reopen Monday, Oct. 26. County health officials and the district's medical adviser originally recommended the school reopen today, but district officials chose to keep the school closed through the weekend to give the flu more time to run its course.


"We wanted that extra cushion of two days," Knorr said. "We're hoping that the whole weekend will kind of get rid of everything."



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