Cullman County Schools custodial staff members

Clorox representative Justin Foster demonstrates the company’s electrostatic cleaning unit to Cullman County Schools custodial staff members.

After seeing big attendance drops during the last two flu seasons, the Cullman County School System has purchased new cleaning units that are meant to keep more kids in the classroom.

In a training session with members of each county school’s custodial staff, representatives from Clorox demonstrated the benefits of the Total 360 electrostatic cleaning unit and showed them how to use the machines.

The system bought seven of the cleaning units from Clorox, which are designed to spray a disinfectant over large areas in a short period of time. The disinfectant receives an electrostatic charge as it is being sprayed, which means it will cling to surfaces in an even coating that will ensure total coverage.

The disinfectant does not contain any bleach, and can be sprayed on hard and soft surfaces that are likely to be touched by many students throughout the day, including desks, tables, chairs, lockers and doors. It can also be used on buses or in locker rooms or field houses to kill bacteria and viruses like the cold and flu or MRSA.

Once a surface is sprayed, it air dries within two minutes and is inert after it dries, which means a classroom can be cleaned and ready for students to return to it in only a few minutes.

Cullman County Schools Superintendent Shane Barnette said the system spends a lot of time and money to disinfect schools using wipes and sprays each year, but those methods take a lot of time to ensure each classroom is cleaned thoroughly and can still miss spots.

With the new cleaning units that are designed to disinfect a large area in a matter of minutes, that means custodians can clean the classrooms easier and more thoroughly than they have before and make sure students aren’t being exposed to illnesses that could cause them to miss school, he said.

“I think this is a game changer,” he said. “If kids are inside the classroom more, they’re going to learn more, and that’s the ultimate goal.”

Over the last two years, schools in Cullman County have been hit hard by the flu, with attendance dropping below 90 percent in 2017, leading to the closing of all of the system’s schools for a day of disinfecting, Barnette said.

He said last year’s flu season wasn’t bad enough to necessitate another school closing, but attendance still dropped into the low 90s.

Parents who have a sick child will should still keep their kids at home to prevent the spread of any disease, but sometimes symptoms don’t show up until after a student has come to school, so the addition of the new cleaning units should help ensure that sicknesses do not spread like they have in years past, he said.

“We think we can stay in the high 90s with this,” Barnette said. “With this on a regular basis, I think we can turn that curve.”

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