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Sat, Jan. 22

Community View | Some ways to make schools safer

Throughout the nation school systems appear to be somewhat stunned on how to make our schools safe from COVID-19.

COVID is odorless, tasteless, invisible and everywhere. Our young people are counting on us to get this right so they can get back to some sense of normal learning activity. We know things will not be back to normal for awhile and that everything is getting wiped down, but more needs to be done.

I lead a community team in the design of a 20,000-square-foot youth facility and interestingly we designed it in a “U” shape. All the rooms opened into the outside U space. Thus, no student congestion.

As a past community planning director and an Arizona licensed general building contractor, I suggest:

  • that all school classrooms have new, outside doors installed and hallways be eliminated.
  • foot-activated automatic door openers be installed.
  • The congested hallways have to go away and be converted to storage for the classrooms. Walls can be added in the hallways between classes.
  • if windows do not open in the classrooms, change some out for allowing fresh air movement into the classrooms. Most schools are designed for complete closed central air conditioning and that is typically not enough air exchange for good, healthy, fresh air.
  • copper kills all bacteria and viruses on contact and completely in minutes. See South Hamilton University YouTube video among a host of others by scientists showing this works. Copper surfaces can be added to door handles, railings and any high-use flat surfaces.
  • there is a local designer that has a hand-held copper device you hold to open and close doors, never touching handles, among other things to use it for.
  • When our nation was in an epidemic condition in the past, schools continued on and classes were held outdoors. Our schools can implement some form of this that addresses weather conditions. It can be as simple as classes in the shade in summer and sunny spaces in the winter.

Common-sense practical solutions need to be implemented now so our young people can get back to school. What I have seen is schools opening and not doing any retrofitting. That is like throwing our children into an infested Petri dish of germs and simply hoping for the best. Let’s get smarter and get to work.

(Jack Ehrhardt is a resident of Kingman.)

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