Madera High School Staff Followed Safety Guidelines While Handing Out Goodies to Seniors

MUSD is Staying Safe During the Pandemic


By Sandon Schwartz, Deputy Superintendent

ON FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2020 Madera Unified was directed to close immediately as per an order issued by the Madera County Health Department in an effort to stop the community spread of Covid-19. While this was an unprecedented action, it did not come as a major surprise as the nation monitored the spread of the virus and the precautions being taken in other parts of the World to control the outbreak. However, that fateful day in March has led to some monumental changes in the way that we live our everyday lives and how the workplace operates. Suddenly, the immediate priorities of MUSD changed. 

Protecting staff and students from a life threatening virus became a top priority for Madera Unified School District and every other school district across the Country. While cleanliness and sanitization were always a part of the MUSD culture, we have never operated in the middle of such a widespread pandemic. Protecting those within our schools and our district became paramount. Countless staff hours have been dedicated to learning more about the virus and how to combat its spread. Safety guidance from government agencies was poured over and strategies implemented as our staff members slowly returned to work after a statewide lockdown. 

The safety of our staff and 20,000 students is of the utmost importance. MUSD has worked diligently to implement the safety guidance that many government agencies have provided over the past six months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published guidelines specifically for school reopening and operations. This document has served as the foundation for newly developed procedures and routines the district has implemented. The United States Environmental Protections Agency has provided recommendations on disinfecting and sanitizing products that the district has followed. The State Health Department has established criteria for reopening and the local Madera County Health Department has been instrumental in providing safety guidance and recommendations for safely reopening. 

Over the last 6 months, Madera Unified School District has spent over $1.1 million to help ensure the safety of our educational community. We have focused safety efforts in four large overarching areas: screening for symptoms and exposure, changes to the physical workplace environment, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing routines, and general behavioral modifications. 


All MUSD Employees fill out an online COVID 19 questionnaire daily before entering the workplace. First employees respond to a question regarding COVID symptoms. Then they confirm that they have not been exposed to an individual who has tested positive for the virus in the last fourteen days. Finally, employees confirm their commitment to follow proven safety measures by washing their hands with soap and water frequently, using hand sanitizer, practicing physical distancing, wearing of face coverings while indoors or in the presence of others of others, and finally sanitizing common areas after use. The results of the screening questionnaire are monitored daily and employees who have indicated they may have symptoms or exposure are immediately followed up on and sent home if necessary. The second part of the screening process is a temperature check. At the beginning of the work day, all employees have their temperatures checked. Anyone with a temperature over 100.4 is sent home for the day and monitored before returning to work. 

The district also works with the Madera County Health Department in the event an employee tests positive or has been exposed to the virus. Contact tracing protocols are followed. Employees who have had direct contact/exposure with an infected individual will be quarantined and asked to be tested. 

While students have not returned to school sites at this time, a similar screening process and temperature checks will be implemented when they do. A room has been set up at every one of our school sites to serve as a location to temporarily house students who may begin to show COVID related symptoms during the school day. 

Physical Environment

The physical environments in our schools and offices have also changed. Plexiglass barriers have been installed in high traffic areas where staff interacts with the public. Hand Sanitizer is available in public locations. Signage mandating mask wearing and social distancing is visible in many areas as are directional arrows to promote one way traffic flow. Classroom and office furniture has been rearranged to support physical distancing. In classrooms, desks are spaced six feet apart and countertops are free from clutter. Student materials are neatly packaged and stored in a manner to prevent the sharing of supplies. Individual desk shields have also been sourced for students in our elementary schools. The district has also purchased over 100 hand washing stations which will be located in schools that do not have sinks in all of their classrooms. 

In order to deal with aerosols that can transmit the virus, heating and cooling systems have been adjusted to maximize the amount of outside air being pulled into classrooms. As more outside air is pulled into a room, more of the inside air is pushed outside creating better circulation of fresh air. While our HVAC systems are not designed to handle high density HEPA filters, the district has had success in upgrading air filters on our HVAC units to higher MERV values. In most cases, MERV 11 and 13 filters are installed which filter out particles as small as .5 microns. 

Cleaning and Sanitizing

The district has created and trained custodial staff on new cleaning and disinfecting procedures. Cleaning protocols focus on cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting areas daily. High touch areas such as countertops, door handles, light switches, table tops, sinks/faucets, chairs, and shared equipment are cleaned and sanitized at a minimum daily. In higher traffic areas and shared spaces such as restrooms, this routine is followed several times throughout the day. Custodians use a cleaning/sanitizing solution to wipe down areas. They then use a portable fogger to spray a fine disinfecting mist in classrooms and common areas nightly and between cohorts to efficiently and effectively disinfect our building spaces.

Teachers and school sites have also been provided with spray bottles filled with a disinfectant to use as necessary. Classrooms have also been provided with antibacterial soap (if a sink is in the classroom), hand sanitizer, and tubs of disinfecting wipes. 

Once our buses begin to transport students again, they will be sanitized in a similar manner. Drivers have been trained on using portable fogging devices and will spray a disinfecting mist on the interior surfaces of their buses every evening and between bus routes. 

Behavioral Modifications

Our staff has been asked to observe social distancing guidelines and to keep 6 feet of distance between themselves and co-workers. Face masks are required at all times while in common areas or when in the presence of others. The district has eliminated large meetings and our guidelines ask staff to limit meetings to fewer than 10 people when a large space such as a cafeteria or classroom is used. Staff lounges and common spaces are limited to a couple of employees at a time and are not used to socialize or serve as a gathering place. Cleaning supplies are provided and staff are asked to disinfect any area after they have used it. 

The district has sourced and distributed personal protective equipment to all staff members. Safety items and cleaning supplies are also stored in our central warehouse and available to staff. These items include cloth masks, disposable cloth masks, face shields, goggles, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, spray bottles, antibacterial soap, disinfectant cleaner, gloves, and cleaning rags. 

The district pledges to continue to support the safety of our educational community and will add additional layers of support as necessary. It is our hope that our efforts will mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and allow for a successful return to the classroom for our students. 


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