WCPSS Ignoring Parents: Tables Still Cleaned With Water Only

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Update 3/10: To try to keep it simple, here's the latest surrounding cleaning policies in WCPSS:

  • With the coronavirus in the community and expected to spread, we ask that WCPSS revisit their cleaning (with water-only) policy. Thousands of parents and their families are concerned. 
    CDC and other leaders in this arena should be followed as far as their recommendations.
  • This petition was started surrounding the cafeteria tables, but due to the flu, COVID-19 and general health recommendations, it's really now a request to take a look at all frequently touched surfaces in our schools. This would include desks, classroom tables, handrails, doorknobs -- and an established and thorough hand-washing policy.
  • Soap and water has been shown to make COVID-19 inactive. It doesn't have to be something strong and thus, potentially toxic, to students. Soap and water is approved for use by the county as cleaning agent for students with food allergies. Other options are available that are shown to inactivate this virus. The appropriate party within the county should be looking into solutions now.
  • Other counties are already ahead of WCPSS in making changes (Lenoir and Franklin, to name a few.)
  • We've created a Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/wakeupwcpss to all for easier sharing of updates and for us as a concerned community to communicate in real-time, in one space. Please follow the page for more info to come.

Update 2/27: If you read the full petition, you'll see this has been an ongoing discussion -- for years. Thousands of parents are concerned. WCPSS has done nothing. So, let's keep signing and sharing AND try a new approach --

WCPSS held a press conference today about the coronavirus and their preparation. Interestingly, the Department of Health and Human Services states, "Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched." on their Coronavirus list of ways to protect yourself from the virus. Yet, our school system does not do so? WHEN will they listen? Sign the petition to have tables cleaned with something other than water. They have ignored us up until now and I certainly don't want it to take an outbreak nationwide to make them change their practices. But, I'm not sure what it will take. I will reach out to media again, but keep this petition going. With flu and now this, it's more important than ever. Neglect on their part. That's what I call it. 

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Unfortunately, we have spoken out, and the Wake County Public School System is not listening. Cafeteria and classroom tables are by 'guidelines' still being cleaned with water only during the school hours or with students present. 

The flu is hitting our area. Our schools are seeing cases, as our our family and friends. As a family with immuno-compromised members, this terrifies me as a mother. 

As a WCPSS parent, it infuriates me that we can collect signatures, the media covers the story, the county won't budget and the school board had nothing to say to us following our delivery of the presentation. Nothing has changed. 

We are just where we were two years ago. Our kids deserve the safest and cleanest environment possible during outbreaks of illness. There are bleach mixtures that can kill the flu and norovirus and still be safe enough to drink. Soap and water cleaning is approved for food allergy students in their health plans, but not for other students. There are options that are safe. It's not my job, or yours, to find the solution. But it is their job to listen to us as concerned parents.

Let's grow these numbers. Make connections. Start a movement. Our kids deserve this. ALL of them.

For more detail --

*This petition was originally created during the 2017 flu season, presented to the WCPSS School Board and unfortunately, after much follow up, they stand by their guidelines. There is no official WCPSS School Board policy surrounding this practice, but it is a guideline set forth by the health services division of our school system. 

As reported by local media and discussed by many Wake County parents during last year's dangerous flu season, the water-wiping-only policy of cafeteria tables is concerning to families. And most aren't even aware that this is the situation at hand.

The current guidelines of WCPSS will only allow water-wiping in cafeterias due to the rapid turn around of classes coming in and out for lunch. The tables are cleaned/sanitized when all students have completed breakfast or lunch for that day. It's explained that this is to protect the students from chemicals, especially those that may have a reaction. 

Recognizing with a such a large school district, there are many needs of thousands of students to consider. Those with contact dermatitis, asthma, food allergies and others must be accommodated along with those who would have no issue with the proper use of a cleaning agent by an adult.

We, as parents, are aware that germs are everywhere. And hand washing is the greatest way to prevent the spread of illness.

But without mandated hand washing before/after snack and lunch and the cleaning of surfaces with only water -- our children are put at even greater risk of contracting the flu (and other sickness) during what's already being predicted as a very dangerous flu season. 

We implore the leadership of the Wake County School System to look into alternatives for the proper cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing of eating surfaces in our schools immediately.

As parents, we want our voices heard.

We know that preschools and day cares are held to very high standards -- including in-classroom cleaning agents used safely among the children. We know that restaurants also have strict requirements for cleaning surfaces. And we know that the CDC has set forth very clear guidelines to help slow the spread of the flu in schools.

The National School Board Association also released guidelines for the management of food allergies for districts -- which includes related pieces WCPSS is not doing. Specifically: 

  • Re: table cleaning – “Monitor and enforce strict cleaning and sanitation policies and procedures. Train staff to use commercial cleaning solutions on tabletops and develop food handling and preparation protocols to avoid cross-contamination.” (pg 9)
  • Re: hand washing – “Promote hand washing before and after breakfast, lunch, and snacks.” And “Consistently implement appropriate hand washing procedures (note that hand sanitizers are not effective in removing the residue of known allergens).” (pg 9)

We need to see WCPSS guidelines changed, policy created, and the health services team to revisit their research for their current guidelines, especially during this year's upcoming flu season, to do a better job of meeting recommended guidelines.

But, we've seen we are going to have to PUSH any of our County's leadership to make any change.

We can't prevent all sickness. And we can't avoid all germs. But we can and do expect our school system to do a better job of helping -- in any and all ways possible -- to keep our kids healthy. 

Perhaps: Take the paper towels and water spray away from the kids in the cafeteria and get a cleaning agent into the hands of adults. Research safer alternatives to harsh cleaners (such a hydrogen peroxide based cleaner), if necessary. Encourage teachers to use cleaners in the classroom at any and all times. Mandate hand washing. Use the soap from the bathrooms which is already, apparently, deemed safe. Request parents to send in certain cleaning products if that's what it takes. We want our kids safe. And we want to feel that our school system supports us in this effort.

We plan to continue to spread the word. And don't plan to stop until change is made. Please read and learn about the environment your children are learning and eating in, and speak out. 

WCPSS is far behind the curve here. As the National School Board Notes, “People might initially resist making accommodations until they realize the life-threatening nature of the situation and the disruptions a health crisis can cause to the school day.” Which is exactly what the district is doing now.

Unacceptable.