NEWMAN - A number of health and safety protocols have been implemented on Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District campuses, where teachers are conducting distance learning activities from their classrooms and classified staff members are going about various duties.

The importance of the safety protocols was underscored in August, Superintendent Randy Fillpot said, when two district employees tested positive for COVID-19.

The staff members advised the district about a week apart that they had self-quarantined and sought testing after experiencing symptoms, Fillpot reported, and subsequently notified the district that they had tested positive.

There was no connection between the two cases, he told Mattos Newspapers.

Following its policies, Fillpot explained, the district conducted contact tracing and determined that no other employees were believed to have been at risk of exposure.

Fillpot said an array of safety protocols are in place for minimizing the risk of coronavirus exposure among the district’s more than 370 employees.

He and Director of Maintenance and Operations Matt Vargas recently detailed the policies and procedures established to reduce the coronavirus risk.

Many reflect the basic guidelines which the general public is asked to follow - including social distancing, required use of facial coverings and rigorous sanitation protocols.

Daily health screenings and other measures are being required as well, the school officials said.

Vargas said all employees go through a temperature check and health screening questions daily upon arrival as part of the protocols - if they have not gone through that process at home. In addition to questions regarding symptoms, Fillpot said, employees are also asked if they have been in contact with somebody who has tested positive for COVID-19.

He said many employees are conducting a self-check on temperature and completing the health screening before arriving on campus.

“We are getting better at everybody doing them prior to being here,” Fillpot noted.

The district has always encouraged employees to stay home when feeling ill, he added, but the pandemic has made doing so even more critical.

On campuses, teachers are largely isolated to their classrooms, which are sanitized daily.

“Our focus is on their desk, the phone, their door handles,” Vargas explained.

Custodian schedules have been adjusted to be sure that every classroom used by a teacher is cleaned and sanitized at the end of the day, he added.

In the office spaces, staff members practice social distancing and plexiglass dividers are in place.

When teachers or office staff members need to collaborate or confer, Vargas said, they are doing so via Zoom from their offices or classrooms rather than gathering in person.

In addition, the district is switching out HVAC systems to a higher level of filtration.

The cleaning and sanitation protocols are ongoing through the day in common areas and high-touch surfaces.

“Throughout the day, our custodians are cleaning and sanitizing common areas such as copiers and break room tables,” Vargas told Mattos Newspapers. “Anything that somebody would touch and somebody else would come behind them and touch we are sanitizing throughout the day.”

Other staff members are also pitching in, Fillpot noted.

“Our custodians and our classified staff are really taking this seriously,” he stated. “I have seen people wiping down door handles after they used them, different things like that.”

Vargas said custodial staff members and administrators on each campus were fully trained on topics ranging from use of personal protective equipment to the proper procedures and application methods for the sanitation products being used.

“Our goal is that no one in our district feels that their safety is at risk in our schools,” Vargas commented.