EMCSD Adds Hand Washing & Bottle Filling Stations Across District
The El Monte City School District has taken advantage of student-less campuses during the pandemic to ensure schools will be as safe as possible when kids are eventually allowed back for in-person instruction. Although there is no definitive timetable for students’ return, over the past few months, EMCSD’s Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations team has been busy installing four new handwashing and four new bottle filling stations across all 14 campuses.
Safety was a driving force behind the decision to remove water fountains and replace them with over a hundred foot-operated hand washing and motion sensored bottle filling stations. “Once we knew the guidelines to not let kids congregate at drinking fountains, we decided in order for parents to feel safe, let’s remove the fountains and strategically place hand wash stations and bottle fill stations around the school,” said Frank Serna, Director of Facilities.
Using the existing plumbing systems, Director Serna’s team successfully installed 114 stations (including two hand washing stations at the Jeff Seymour Family Center) in order to provide students with enough space outdoors to safely wash their hands and get water. The foot activation and motion sensor features also limit the need for students to come into physical contact with high-touch surfaces.
The Facilities team also installed custom plexiglass barriers in every classroom, main office, and nurse space at each of its campuses. Each barrier was cut and shaped in-house by the facilities team after precise measurements were made to accommodate safety guidelines.
In fact, all the handwashing and water filling stations were installed by members of the District’s facilities team, something the department was really pushing for. “I’m really proud of the team because we do have some talented guys…[before], we would always contract stuff out and my guys were always asking ‘why don’t we do the work?’ We eventually started taking care of it, letting guys show off their talent.” He also pointed out that he still contracts jobs to local bidders when needed, but overall is proud to know that his crew is up to any task.
Director Serna says his team is still hard at work making extensive updates at school sites in order to continue to make them as safe as possible. He says they have completed nearly all of the Covid-related recommended updates, but as more teachers visit their campuses to conduct Distance Learning, he has seen more requests for customized plexiglass in order to accommodate teachers’ comfort and teaching style.
Overall, he’s confident in the work his team has done to prove to parents that whenever schools will be open again, children will be put in the best position to be safe. He says classrooms are set up for social distancing and believes the District is ahead of the game, “Adding all this extra stuff is pretty much a plus because they really aren’t on the guidelines, it’s just that we’re going above and beyond to add these extra [accomodations] so parents will be comfortable letting kids come back.”