In December of 2017, the South Bay Union Elementary School District in Humboldt County, California had a Norovirus outbreak that was so prevalent the school district closed down to avoid continuing the cycle of infection. Superintendent Gary Storts was faced with the challenge of continuing on with education while taking steps to avoid another outbreak.
Ensuring that children are healthy and able to access the curriculum that teachers are trying to provide at an exceptional level is vital. And making sure that they’re present in school and healthy is a big deal. It’s important to consider all the ramifications of kids missing school due to illness. Beyond the obvious fact that they miss out on important learning, there are also operational efficiencies and financial impacts to the school district.
Operationally, absences impact teacher efficiencies because of time required to catch returning students up, and teacher illness-related absences further impact student learning. Financially, every absence is taking out about $60 a day in state funding. The average student in California misses around 10 days a year, so that financial impact is about $600 per year per student. Those are dollars that are not able to be put back into resources to better provide teachers with the tools they need to do their jobs at an exceptional level.
Following the norovirus outbreak, SafeHandles was brought in to treat all classrooms and school facilities with electrostatic sanitization prior to the return of students. Then SafeHandles products were installed on all commonly-touched surfaces, and the buses were put on an electrostatic sanitization schedule. Since that time, attendance rebounded and has stayed at a 1.21% increase. This increase equated to 1,542 additional student-seat days in a 6-month period following the application of SafeHandles compared to the prior year data. This increase is a priceless opportunity for additional learning and represents more than $90,000 in additional funding to support teachers in performing at an exceptional level.
One of the best parts of working with SafeHandles is how seamless it is to incorporate into a regular schedule. The company arrives on campus, checks into the office, and does their job without disruption to regular school activities.
According to Superintendent Storts, “We know that attendance is sort of the heartbeat of student achievement, and anything that we can do to get our kids inside the classroom more often than not, we’re going to do. There’s not a dollar point that’s too high for student learning.”