When planning for the reopening of school, Clay County schools Superintendent Dale Cole realized that a key element for a successful return would be cleanliness. By thinking outside the box, Cole is confident he’s found a solution to a potential problem.
“Obviously we had to ramp up our cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing efforts to ensure a safe environment for our students and staff,” Cole said. “I knew there had to be someone out there who deals with this type of thing on a daily basis.”
The “emist” backpack charges chemicals with electricity which makes them able to stick to surfaces. Cole’s brainstorming led him to land on nursing homes and hospitals. “Who better to look at as an example than the healthcare industry?”
“I was actually speaking to a local resident of Clay County, Abner Moore, about the challenges of disinfecting our facilities completely on a weekly basis with as small a labor force as we have,” Cole said. “He shared how they do this at his dental office as well as in other health facilities and he gave me Scott’s McDaniel’s contact information.”
McDaniel is a former Hayesville resident. Now living in Florida, McDaniel is the CEO of Bonafide Medical Group. His system, known as “emist”, uses electricity to charge disinfectant chemicals. The charge causes the product to stick to surfaces much like powder coating. A hand-held device turns the product into a fine mist which allows it to reach places in a room that hand cleaning could not.
“I called Scott, and after discussing it, it seemed our disinfecting needs for the schools were very similar to what he was providing in rest homes, hospitals and other care facilities, so we decided to try it out and track how well we were able to disinfect our classrooms,” said Cole.
Along with the device itself, the program also comes with an app which helps ensure clean environments campus wide. Cole explained the apps purpose. “I sent Scott maps of all of our buildings. He was able to enter that into the software and now the app will pick a random spot in a random room and will send me to test it. So for example it might send me to test a pencil sharpener in a third grade classroom.”
The test kit itself tests for organic material which is where bacteria and viruses live. If the sample exceeds the acceptable amount, it will be considered a failed test and the room will be shut down. “
With our old procedures, we would have lost that room for 14 days and we don’t have
enough classrooms to lose even one for two weeks.” said Cole. “Now, with this technology, we can go in and mist the room, wait 24 hours, test again and if the room passes, we are good to go.” The data can also be monitored by McDaniel and his team in Florida.
In order to use the new device, Clay County Schools had to sign a three-month contract with the company. “Their fee is $900 per month which includes the device, training, the app and monitoring,” Cole said.
It does not require the school to buy special chemicals to use in the mister. “We use the same chemicals we would be using if we were spraying and wiping every day. Electrostatics just give us better coverage and make disinfecting much more efficient for our custodians,” added Cole.
To help with the cost, local dentist Dr. Julie Ledford and her staff donated $1,000 to the school and The Dogwood Health Foundation Trust in Asheville is helping pay for the rest.
Cole’s excitement was evident as he demonstrated the process, saying, “I really think this is going to be a game changer that will give students, staff and parents peace of mind in knowing we are doing all we can to make Clay County Schools as safe as possible.”
In next week’s issue, learn more about the state-of- the-art entrance at the new primary school.