While most of the school has benefited from renovations of the school that improved security, and improvements to the school in the summers of 2017 and 2018 , but one particular area has suffered neglect — Starr’s Mill relies on outdated restroom equipment that could lead to health problems for students and teachers given the current COVID-19 pandemic.
A primary issue here is that of contact tracing, a practice which allows the school to trace the virus to other people if one student were to contract it, allowing for a quarantine of specific students, rather than large groups. The one place where this plan falls short is the restrooms, with no real way to know who touched what.
National Institute of Health officials tell how long COVID-19 can rest on surfaces, sometimes for only a few hours and others for multiple days. The restroom is full of these places, including the handles on sinks, soap dispenser levers, and toilet handles.
The virus is also contractible through air particles, which are spread by things such as motion-activated hand dryers. This is limited somewhat by the use of masks required at Starr’s Mill, but some students wear masks incorrectly, or not at all when there is no supervision.
Evidence against air dryers goes further with tests showing that even with washed hands, air dryers can spread bacteria onto the walls and in the air. One test shows that under an air dryer, one can find 31 colonies of bacteria after thoroughly washed hands as opposed to the four colonies a paper towel dispenser has the possibility of spreading.
Over 55 million students, as well as 7 million staff, attend public schools every day. Making sure that they stay safe saves one-fifth of the population from harmful diseases like COVID-19, or even just the flu. Once one person catches it, it can be spread from person to person, and then to the remaining four-fifths of the population via family and workplace members.
A simple and highly effective way to solve this problem would be to improve the restrooms. Just about everything in the restroom can be automated, including the sinks, toilets, soap dispensers, and paper towel dispensers. Using these would greatly cut down the number of germs spread in the restroom, and greatly reduce a key area of contact tracing.
Improvements could help to stall the spread of other infectious diseases, including the common cold and the flu. Less contact equals less spread of illnesses, which is a good thing for everyone at Starr’s Mill.
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