Holden mom concerned about disinfectants being used in kids' school to fight spread of COVID-19

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HOLDEN, Maine (WABI) - Amid the coronavirus, some local parents are concerned about what disinfectants are available at their kids' schools.

This comes after a mother from Holden was told her children would not be allowed to bring in their own hand sanitizer, nor are teachers allowed to use disinfecting wipes, due to their toxicity.

Cherie Faulkner is a mom of twins and a registered nurse.

She says she shared her concerns with RSU 63's Superintendent, Susan Smith. We spoke with Smith Friday.

She says she is completely confident the products they have on hand will kill germs.

The superintendent says there is an Instafoam available that was proven effective against H1N1 and a variety of other viruses.

However, that hand sanitizer has not been tested against coronavirus.

Smith adds that she cannot allow the use of products in school beyond what they have checked thoroughly.

She's also concerned about how this could affect students with allergies.

Faulkner says she's worried about her children getting sick from interactions from school.

That could affect her most vulnerable patient who has a chronic lung disease.

"If I were to bring that to his house because we weren't doing the proper precautions and something happened to him, I don't think I could live with myself. He's like a child to me and we have to protect the most vulnerable people during this pandemic,” said Cherie Faulkner of Holden.

"Student safety is always our first priority as superintendents,” Susan Smith, RSU 63 Superintendent explained. “Their well-being and privacy are really important to us too. It's always a job that's at the forefront. In times like this, it's even more so and we're cautious, but also cautious on the side of making sure we're really protecting the kids and the staff."

The superintendent says all schools in the district have plenty of soap and water available.

Staff are also providing extra time, lessons, and oversight of hand washing.

Faulkner says this is a difficult time for students and staff.

She plans to voice her concerns to the School Board at their next meeting on Monday the 23rd.

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RSU Superintendent, Susan Smith released the following statement to TV5 Friday:
Student safety is our first priority. We are closely monitoring the percent of students and staff absent as well as the reason for their absences, following CDC guidelines, sharing information with families and our community, disinfecting commonly touched areas frequently (door knobs, light switches, etc.), cleaning surfaces that already look clean, and using our electrostatic sprayer to disinfect our classrooms, bathrooms, common areas, and busses.

While it has not yet been tested against the COVID 19, the hand sanitizer we use (Instafoam from SC Johnson) was proven very effective against the H1N1 and a variety of other viruses. Our equipment and staff do a great job making sure our H2 Orange 2117 is mixed in the correct manner and used at the correct strength.

The CDC continues to recommend washing hands with soap and water; with using alcohol-based products when soap and water is not available. We have plenty of soap and water available and we are providing extra time, lessons, and oversight of handwashing. For example, songs that take 20 seconds or longer to sing are posted by a sink in one school. Another teacher has the students wash their hands until they wash off a hand stamp.

Protecting our students’ privacy and well-being is also very important to us. I cannot share specific information about students and their health issues or allergies. I also cannot allow the use of products beyond those we have already checked thoroughly. It could affect the health and well-being of at least one of our students.

Parents/guardians have the final say in whether or not they send their children to school when it comes to health concerns and winter weather. If a parent chooses not to send their child to school because of concerns they have, we will count that as an excused absence.

This is a difficult and unique time. School Superintendents have to make the best decisions they can using information from CDC and their knowledge of their students and community.