Schools ramp up cleaning efforts as kids come down with flu, fears over coronavirus spread

Posted at 9:37 PM, Jan 31, 2020

SANDY, Utah — Almost a quarter of the students a Lone Peak Elementary School called out sick this week, a spokesperson for the school said.

Mary Hardy, the school’s administrative assistant, takes a lot of those calls from parents.

“We have had cases of influenza and strep going around and just common cough and colds,” she said.

While this is a time of year when kids often stay home sick, Hardy said, this year she’s seen more kids sick than others.

A few years back, following the Norovirus outbreak, the Canyons School District invested in a Protexus — a machine that sprays hospital-grade detergent. While it is used all year round in certain areas, the accident facility manager for Lone Peak Elementary said this time of year it gets a lot more use.

“This is the third time this week I’ve been here past my normal hours just spraying. Not doing anything else, not moving stuff, not fixing stuff, just doing this,” Matthew Eldred said.

While there have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Utah, the Canyons School District sent out an email to parents and staff regarding the guidance offered by the Salt Lake County Health Department.

“While novel coronavirus has not reached Utah — to date, there have been no documented cases within the state — and health officials say the threat remains low, Canyons District schools are taking precautions in adherence with these guidelines,” the email read in part, along with the following letter:

A spokesperson for the district said there have been students who have recently returned from China, but none have been symptomatic.

The latest flu numbers from the Utah Department of Health show widespread flu activity.

“When kids get sick, it’s not ‘Spray with a normal chemical’ — it’s ‘Go get the disinfectant. Spray it, clean it, spray it again, spray deodorizer so it doesn’t smell’ kind of thing,” Eldred said.

Making sure things are cleaned is extremely important to Eldred.

“We do sanitation during the day, we do disinfecting at night of the high touch points, and then on top of that if something is going around or if I have extra time, I go through and spray everything down with this so that everything gets coated and taken care of,” he said.

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