In the News

Readying our Campus for In-Person Classes

While Saint Francis students and educators have been working and studying remotely, clubs, teams and parent groups have been able to meet on campus for the past school year while wearing masks and adhering to social distancing rules. As Saint Francis prepares for the return of students on February 18 via a hybrid class schedule, Director of Facilities Tim Houlihan walks us through the measures the school has taken to make sure that everyone feels safe on campus. 

What is your guiding principle as you prepare the campus for the return of students and educators?

We want the community to know that the safety of every student and staff is number one on our list, and that has been at the forefront of the decision-making process for our administrators. We're not taking any shortcuts, and we want to make sure that everybody can come back to school in a safe fashion. 

How has Saint Francis responded to making the campus safe?

Since the spread of the Covid-19 is through the air, we've improved the ventilation throughout campus. Following CDC guidelines and recommendations, we've updated all the HVAC filter systems to MERV 13 filters, which is one step below the HEPA filters that are used in hospitals. These filters are changed every 90 days. Normally we would change filters twice a year, once before the start of school and once during the Christmas break. 

We also updated all our automatic HVAC systems to use 100 percent outside air during each air exchange.

What are some changes that have you made to physical spaces?

We reduced class sizes, and desks are a minimum of six feet apart. We have opened up all the restrooms to be used by students, including those that are normally only open for events. We have installed eight 20x30 foot tents in the quad that can be used as outdoor classrooms or eating space. We have set up plexiglass shields at areas with a high volume of walk-up traffic. We also want to break up the flow of traffic throughout the buildings so there are arrows on the floors and walls to indicate how to enter and exit.

Can you talk about the deep-cleaning procedures?

In between classes, teachers spray the desks with a disinfectant spray, and every night each classroom is disinfected with an electrostatic sprayer. For the past three years, before the pandemic, we've actually been treating every classroom, common area, van and bus with a long-term disinfectant that prevents the growth of bacteria, viruses and mold. 

Your staff has been coming to campus for nearly a year to keep the campus safe and clean. Can you give them a shout-out for the work they've been doing? 

Our crew have put in a great effort. They love our kids, they love our staff, and they take great pride in the fact that the campus is going to be safe. They are wearing masks, cleaning classrooms, moving furniture around every single day. I want to make sure we recognize their efforts.

For more information on how we’re preparing our campus to minimize the spread of Covid-19, visit https://www.sfhs.com/covid19/facility-preparations