LIVINGSTON, La. (The Livingston Parish News) — The Livingston Parish Public Schools system is ready to increase the usage of its new state-of-the-art disinfectant and sanitizing device should the novel coronavirus become a local issue, Superintendent Joe Murphy said in a press release Wednesday.

The school district invested in a fleet of Clorox 360 Electrostatic Sprayers nearly a year ago to keep its 47 campuses clean and less susceptible to the spread of infectious viruses and bacteria that may cause illnesses — and possibly, absences — among its students and employees.

Murphy said the district has used the devices through two “flu seasons” and stands ready to increase usage should concerns over the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19, “become valid for the local area.”

“We have protocols in place should we receive any reports of an increase of the flu or any other infectious diseases in our area,” Murphy said in the press release. “We made a significant district-wide investment in the Clorox 360 Electrostatic Sprayers… and that’s helped to lessen the impact of the flu on our schools.

“These cleaning devices are effective on other viruses and bacteria as well.”

Murphy said principals are regularly encouraged to identify students and teachers who may be ill and to also take measures that emphasize proper hygiene “through lessons and with visual reminders throughout the campus.”

He also said custodial workers are instructed to be “very thorough” in their cleaning efforts, “especially on those frequently-touched surfaces, like the water fountain and lavatories.”

Those efforts are practiced even more vigorously at elementary schools, which are most susceptible to the spread of disease because of the habits of young children, Murphy said.

According to the press release, the Clorox 360 Electrostatic Sprayer imparts a positive electric charge to spray droplets, causing the liquid droplets to be attracted to surfaces like opposite poles of a magnet.

The benefit is fast and highly-uniform coverage of surfaces, including areas out of the direct line of site that might be missed by conventional sprayers.

Though electrostatic spraying of disinfectants and sanitizers is new to the cleaning industry, the technology is not.

Electrostatics have been used quite successfully in the spraying of paints and coatings as well as pesticides for crops. Electrostatic spraying is said to be highly useful for coating complex shapes with a highly uniform film that has little or no overspray and helps ensure that hidden or shadowed surfaces get covered.

Often up to one-third less solution is used to cover equal areas because waste is minimized, according to the Clorox 360 website.

“After careful study of options, and on the recommendation of our school nurse supervisor, the district moved forward with the Clorox 360 machines,” Assistant Superintendent Stephen Parrill said. 

Parrill noted that student success is directly connected with student and employee attendance, “so any measure we can take to help our students and employees stay well is worth investigating and implementing.”

The LPPS announcement comes in response to the novel coronavirus, which as of Wednesday has resulted in 11 deaths in the U.S., with 10 in Washington state and one in California, according to CNN.

Around the world, the disease has killed 3,200 people — the vast majority in mainland China, where it is believed to have originated — and there are now more than 92,000 global cases with infections in more than 70 countries and territories.

On Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards said there have been no confirmed coronavirus infections in Louisiana, though that is expected to change.

“We do believe it’s a matter of when, not if,” Edwards said.