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Ottumwa Schools close for deep cleaning

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 11:13 PM CST
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - The Ottumwa Community School District announced last week that Monday and Tuesday, students would learn virtually, while the janitorial staff deep cleaned all of the schools.

Mike Stiemsma, the Talented and Gifted Coordinator, who’s working closely on this issue in Ottumwa Schools, says that while there have been some teacher absences, “probably the number one focus is just to make sure we could do that thorough deep cleaning of all of our spaces. And the extra time just gave more time for the janitorial staff to pull that off.”

This cleaning will fully reset classrooms and hopefully lessen the spread of COVID-19 in the schools. The district’s seen large numbers of students in quarantine - 135 as of the latest update. Though, Mike says those numbers aren’t all from spreading the virus in schools.

“A parent tested positive or they went to a Halloween party with a bunch of other kids and there was a positive there. RIght now, most of the cases are something that’s related closer to home than it is to school.”

He estimated only a third of the students in quarantine is because of school-related contact tracing, most notably lunch, where students take their masks off.

During this week, the janitorial staff will wipe down heavily touched objects, like door handles, pencil sharpeners, and light switches. Desk and chairs as well. And going through all the rooms and hallways with this sprayer, which will clean anywhere difficult to get to or wipe down.

And while several districts in the state are going virtual, Mike says the safest places for kids right now is school, because of how many rules are set in place.

“We know we can have some of these mitigation efforts. We can have our janitorial staff do this deep cleaning. We can have hand washing routines. We can remind kids to keep their masks on.”

Efforts that might not be as strict if every child is at home. The district plans for students to return on Monday, the 30th, to squeaky-clean school buildings.

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