Starkville schools prep for students to return Monday

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – During a typical school year, teachers teach, coaches coach, and custodians clean, but when it comes to stopping the spread of COVID-19, it’s all hands on deck.

Classes start Monday for Starkville students and the staff at Sudduth Elementary has spent the last few days preparing for students to arrive.

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They said they’re eager to get the ball rolling, but they want to provide a safe environment for everyone.

Work will begin more than an hour before students arrive.

Each employee is tasked with cleaning a certain area.

“Everyone’s responsibility this year is to keep the school clean,” said first-grade teacher Ashlea Sheorn.

“Each day our custodians will go through and sanitize the common areas, and then before the students arrive into the classrooms, the teachers will sanitize the classrooms in the morning before the students arrive,” said Sudduth Elementary Principal Morgan Abraham.

The cleaning doesn’t stop after the bell rings.

“This is going to be like all day, every day, three times a day,” said Benjamin Randle.

Randle has been the head custodian at Sudduth for 6 years.

He said the most challenging part will be cleaning behind people as they enter the building throughout the day.

“Hand bars, doorknobs, keeping the bathrooms sanitized four times a day,” said Randle.

Each grade is assigned a certain entrance, and each entrance has a sanitization station.

“When students with the Starkville Oktibbeha School District get to class, they’ll actually pass by (a) thermal face scanner, which can read their temperature and detect if they’re wearing their mask correctly,” said reporter Cash Matlock.

“These are touchless hand sanitizing stations that can be used each time they enter the building and in the classrooms while they are sanitizing their hands,” said Abraham.

Sudduth has 6 custodians on staff, but the responsibility of disinfecting the campus doesn’t rest on their shoulders alone.

“Each classroom is getting, or has, a bucket of wipes that are much like Clorox wipes or Lysol wipes, but they are filled with a hospital-grade sanitizer and disinfectant that they’ll be using throughout the day,” said Abraham.

“We will wipe down all the desks and any supplies like manipulatives that the kids would use and we do that throughout the day and then of course at the end of the day, a sweep of all the classrooms sanitizing and spray as well,” said Sheorn.

This school year may be different than before, but faculty and staff members are staying positive.

“If we can just keep the CDC guidelines by washing our hands, using the hand sanitizer, and the six feet social distancing, I believe we can do pretty good as a district,” said Randle.

“Sudduth Elementary is a safe place to come, and we want our students and our families, and our community to know that,” said Abraham.

Educators tell WCBI the hand sanitizer they use is a special non-alcoholic formula that’s safe for children who may frequently put their hands in their mouths.

They said they’re also swapping out their water fountains with water bottle fillers.