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School districts rush to improve safety measures before students come back to class

Improvements include touchless devices, better air quality systems, and new cleaning procedures.

When the last school bell rang, and the kids went home for the summer, that's when Tom Parent and his staff at Saint Paul Public Schools went to work.

“This is truly an all hands-on deck effort,” Parent says.

He leads a team of more than 400 maintenance workers that are working hard to fix, replace and install as many safety improvements as they can before students come back to school.

"Every summer is busy. We usually have about 10 weeks without students to get work done and this year is doubly busy with preparing for the three different scenarios of what fall could look like," Parent says.

Their biggest focus is an area you might not expect, air movement.

Parent says a building’s air circulation system plays a big role in keeping kids safe.

Right now, his staff is busy testing the systems in each building to make sure they’re running at peak efficiency, because they’re planning to run those systems longer and at higher settings once the students come back.

“We want to bring in a lot of outside air to keep the air inside moving,” Parent explains.

School districts across the state are also looking at new touchless products to prevent students from spreading the virus.

Some of these touchless products include touchless toilets, faucets, drinking fountains and soap dispensers.

School districts are also buying new door accessories that let you open the door without touching it.

Parent says his custodial workers are also rethinking the way they clean.

"We’ve got a four-tier cleaning plan,” Parent says.

“We’re focusing more time on commonly touched surfaces such as door knobs, lockers and railings.”

Parent says they also created a 9-person response team that will quickly disinfect a school when a student catches the virus.

They're also looking at a new space in the nurse's office that will keep kids who might have the virus separate from other students.

They're even re-thinking the way they serve lunch.

"That's a major logistical undertaking for us, is we think about a world in which we can't have 150 to 200 kids in a cafeteria," Parent says.

Workers are also setting up hand sanitizer dispensers in every class room in the district.

But for every safety improvement you can see, Parent says there's another one you can't see going on behind the scenes.

"There are 400 people on the facilities team at Saint Paul Public Schools and each and every one of us is committed to putting in the effort to make sure we're ready for fall."

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