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Maintenance crews working to make schools academic year ready

◆ Over the summer, maintenance crews have been testing different sanitizing solutions.

Government and community response to Covid-19 is dictating activity choices for many organizations these days, and the Lincoln County School District No. 2 Maintenance Department is no exception.

Along with general building and property maintenance like parking lot, sidewalk and lawn care, the LCSD2 maintenance crew has been hustling to ensure that schools are safe for students to return to school when the time comes.

In spite of a $900,000 maintenance budget cut in 2020 for buildings district wide, LCSD2 is investing in retrofitting schools to accommodate state guidelines for student social distancing, sanitation and meeting basic student needs.

“We have been watching Covid,” said Warren Hicks, LCSD2 Maintenance Manager. “As soon as it really started to manifest in February and we could see that it was going to be a thing, we started ordering new supplies and looking at different ways of cleaning. Getting supplies here has been a real challenge for us. A lot of those supplies that we ordered in February, we still haven’t seen yet. We have really had to think outside the box and change the way we do things.”

Through the summer, building custodians have been experimenting with new solutions for sanitizing large areas. They have used big sanitizing sprayers and various products to determine what will work and what won’t work for keeping schools sanitized and keeping staff and students safe once school is back in session.

“Right now, we are really kind of scrambling because we only recently received a lot of guidelines for the reopening of school,” said Hicks. “The Smart Start program has laid out some different things that we didn’t know we were going to have to do. For instance, we have to provide water to students, but a traditional drinking fountain is not an option anymore, so we are purchasing bottle fill stations that mount to the wall to give students hands-free bottle filling. It seems simple, but it’s very, very costly and time-consuming to get them here and get them installed. We are all scrambling to get that done before the kids come back.”

To maximize student capacity and accommodate social distancing guidelines in the SVHS cafeteria, the room is being remodeled. Booths and benches have been removed. The floor is being redone, and tables and chairs will replace the booths.

Several other major maintenance projects that were on the schedule for this summer are moving forward to keep staff and students comfortable and successful.

“Refinishing the Star Valley High roof is our biggest animal that we have taken on this summer,” said Hicks. “That is about three-fourths of the way through. We should be finished with that by the time school is back in session. Phase 1 includes work on two-thirds of the school and skylights in those areas.”

LED lighting is a new feature to the gym wing and locker rooms at SVHS. The Commons Area is also receiving new LED lighting. Additionally, buildings throughout the district received entirely new security systems and cameras.

“We also have our HVAC controls as a district-wide project,” said Hicks. “That will be completed somewhere around the end of September, and that was three-quarters of a million-dollar job. It was really needed. The system that we had was in place for about 12 years, and these systems just don’t have long life expectancy, just like a computer. They don’t support them after so many years. When your HVAC controls go down, you have absolutely no control over these new buildings. You can’t keep them warm or cool them off. So, it was definitely time to get that done.”

These projects and other standard maintenance projects, such as refinishing wood floors, restoring concrete curbing and moving a few walls, are being completed by 26 individuals on the district maintenance and custodial crew.