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Preston schools search for new COVID-killing cleaner

KINGWOOD — Preston County Schools personnel are working to find the best products to eliminate COVID-19 germs without causing harm to people.

Last week, representatives of the Preston County Education Association (PCEA) told the Preston Board of Education the products being used by teachers to wipe down surfaces between classes do not kill the COVID-19 virus.

Board members immediately tasked the staff with looking at other cleaners.

On Friday a meeting was held with central office staff, custodians, the facilities and maintenance director, representatives from Liberty Distributors, representatives of the teacher and service unions, and two board members to discuss cleaning products.

“The majority of the products we are using are EPA approved,” Assistant Superintendent Brad Martin said Monday. The question is what can be used to clean classrooms between classes, he said. The hydrogen peroxide based products now being used are not on the EPA list of those that kill the coronavirus.

The EPA List N is “disinfectants for use against SARS-coV-2 (COVID-19) … All products on this list meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.”

“There’s still concern with the harshness of products used between class periods versus [those used when students are not in the building]. You don’t want to solve one problem and create another,” Martin said.

Board President Jack Keim echoed that concern.

“It’s my opinion that they don’t know what definitely kills the virus. Because if they did, everybody would be using it. There would be no virus,” Keim said.

There’s constant research worldwide, he noted. “They still haven’t found anything that will kill it, and that’s where we’re all at.”

Keim was appalled when the PCEA reps said only 20% of the 42 teachers they surveyed said they knew how to use the products. “Twenty percent of even 20 would have been too much,” Keim said Monday.

Board Members Jeff Zigray and Jeanne Dreisbach were at the meeting Friday. Zigray said he also contacted Mon Health Preston Memorial to see what it uses to clean out COVID.

Zigray said the system is looking at another product, called Sanitize 440. It is on the EPA list, “and it kills COVID supposedly.”

There’s concern it might be too strong to use when the schools are filled with people but could be used when school is not in session, he noted.
There’s also a product called HDQ Neutral that is supposed to kill the germ in one minute. It will be substituted for the Halt product being used on the buses, Zigray said.

A product called Sanitizer 440 has a pH value of 7 to 8, which is closer to neutral, Zigray said. There is also an alcohol based product that kills COVID, but there are concerns about its flammability.

“Our big concern is the Peroxy is not on the list,” said Zigray, referring to the products teachers brought to the board’s attention last week. It’s a good sanitizer, he said.

“We are currently assessing the pros and cons of this potential switch,” Martin said Friday in an email.