Custodians at the School District of Indian River County are using new technology to prevent students from getting sick.
"We want to have healthy children, so they can learn," said Ann Rieben, custodial services coordinator and trainer for the district.
During the peak of the flu season earlier this year, the district invested in several machines to better disinfect the schools and also find out just how effectively they're doing that.
A $600 ATP monitoring system gives Rieben the ability to swab any surface and then plug that swab into the machine to immediately find out how many germs are on it.
“You can see anything up to 3,000 in a school setting, school buses down to drinking fountains," Rieben said.
The lower the number, the fewer germs.
"In a cafeteria, we definitely want them 30 or below," she said. "I'd rather see 10 and below."
Toward the end of the school day prior to being cleaned, a swab revealed a bacteria level of 957 on the bar on the water fountain pushed to spray water. A door knob and a light switch were at 432.
"I don’t know of any other schools really that use them," Rieben said, of the ATP monitor.
She's mainly using the machine to find out if germs are left after her staff members have cleaned.
“The cafeterias look great. Actually, the desks look great," Rieben said. "But the restrooms and the hallways are actually what we need to concentrate on.”
The district is also giving custodians new tools to accomplish a deeper clean. For the last month and a half, custodians have been using a $3,600 no-touch cleaning machine, which sprays, sanitizes and vacuums up grime. It can spray water at 500 PSI.
"They would take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to clean the restroom," Rieben said. "We can do it now in 20 minutes."
This month, the district also anticipates receiving a machine that sprays a sanitizing mist throughout a room, which Rieben says can disinfect a whole school in an hour.