Crews clean classrooms before students return during flu season

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ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Students and teachers in a number of local school districts are heading back to class on Tuesday.

Cleaning crews in some schools stayed busy over the winter break, working to keep everyone healthy this flu season.

It comes after a new report Monday from the Tennessee Department of Health. The state is now reporting two pediatric deaths linked to the flu, including one in East Tennessee.

WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel visited Grand Oaks Elementary school in Anderson County. The staff there are making sure it’s germ-free before students return.

The principal of Grand Oaks Elementary, Jessica Conatser, said they head in to every break with a focus, and this one’s focus was disinfecting. She says that’s because cold and flu season is here.

The school didn’t see a lot of students sick before the break, and they’re hoping it stays that way after a recent deep cleaning.

“It’s where they spend most of their time, so it needs to be a safe place where they are hopefully not going to get sick if we can help it,” said Stephanie Mcbrien, a fourth grade teacher.

Mcbrien’s efforts to clean her classroom are an extra addition to custodial crews’ deep cleaning of Grand Oaks.

“They will disinfect all of the surfaces in the classroom, the desks and the chairs, countertops and that kind of thing, and they also really do a good disinfecting of those heavily touched items in the room, like the door knobs, or the light switches, telephones, that kind of thing,” Conatser said.

Crews use a sprayer to put a layer of disinfectant on all the classroom surfaces.

“It uses hospital-grade disinfectant to make sure those areas are very clean and germ-free,” Conatser said.

It’s a priority for the school while students were on break, and leaders are hoping it keeps sickness to a minimum when they return.

“Flu and cold season is upon us, and so we want to focus our efforts as much as possible on being preventative and making sure that our students don’t have to miss school,” the school’s principal said.

She also put out a plea to parents to wash their child’s backpack, coat, and lunchboxes – those things that don’t get washed on a regular basis – and to keep their kids home if they’re sick.

The Knox County Health Department says it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine.

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