Schools are stepping up disinfecting and hand washing to prevent the spread of COVID-19

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HONOLULU(KHON2)–Schools are stepping up efforts to disinfect classrooms and campus facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 after two confirmed cases of the pathogen were found in Hawaii.

“There is already an effort in place that’s moving forward to protect the children,” Kama’aina Kids President Ray Sanborn said.

Sanborn said their mission to prevent the spread of the virus is in full effect at Kama’aina Kids Preschools.

“This is what we use to clean and disinfected the table after the bleach solution. Just an extra step to kill any kind of virus,” Director of Kama’aina Kids Kane’ohe Navetra Whorline said as she held up a bottle of cleaning spray.

“We disinfect our classrooms, our toys, our surfaces, our eating areas about four or five times a day already. We’re just upping that a little bit more. I’m also doing the door handles and light switches– things that we all touch on a regular basis,” Whorline explained.

Whorline said hand-washing is an important part of the routine with the kids.

“Here we wash our hands diligently before meals, after meals, before art projects, after projects, a couple of times throughout the day.”

They are also talking to the kids about how germs are spread.

“For our older children who are able to understand, we are talking to them about trying to keep things away from their eyes, nose, and mouth. And teaching them that when they sneeze, to either sneeze in their elbow or a tissue. Or when they cough, to cover their mouth,” Whorline said.

State Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said the Department of Education is also doing what they can.

“Doing the things that are preventative in terms of making sure that we have a healthy environment for both learning and for working,” Kishimoto explained.

She said they’re taking the lead from the Department of Health and the CDC.

“We have guidance and have stepped up in the field with cleaning surfaces and disinfecting areas where students and staff have high touch areas, and we are making sure that our students are also washing their hands,” Kishimoto said.

Both Kishimoto and Sanborn said the DOE and Kama’aina Kids has protocols in place in case a child comes to school sick.

“We’re worried not only about COVID-19 but also the flu and influenza prevention right now. So we’re already actively looking at signs kids might be ill and need to have their temperature taken. We have health rooms in all of our schools. We have Hawaii keiki nurses that work with us,” Kishimoto said.

But she said it’s not just about the students, they’re talking to teachers and administration too.

“It’s about self monitoring. We’re telling our employees if they’re not feeling well take the time to stay home to take care and get better before coming back to work,” Kishimoto explained.

Sanborn said they are talking to parents to make sure they are monitoring their keiki.

“We’re asking (parents) to be a little bit more diligent with the health of kids of their child. If they are sick or have any signs of illness, not to bring them to school,” Sanborn said.

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