It Takes a Village to Take Care of This Building
"We stood up to that challenge, and it made me proud that we were able to deal with the challenges with minimal complaints, you know, we were just able to get in there and just do what needed to be done."
The students here at Metro have special needs, they’ve got cognitive disabilities. I love them. I love what I do and who I do it for. Honestly, I do. They have special needs that range from autism to physical disabilities as well. We have a good population of our students that are in wheelchairs, but we have a lot that can get around and walk and talk and everything else. But we have some that may not hear, some that may not speak.
It's harder for them to learn virtually because they are more hands-on. We have visually impaired students who need to touch and feel. It was also hard on the school because as far as wearing masks, most of our students can't wear masks, keep masks on, and then as far as staff wearing masks, if you have a student that is hearing impaired, they watch the mouths of staff a lot of times to kind of understand what they're saying.
(COVID) has definitely changed our workload, but at Metro, because we are already a developmental day site, we were already a little bit ahead of the other CMS sites as far as with the daily cleaning. We get a little bit more cleanups than other schools because of the nature of the accidents. We may have more accidents where we have to go down and maybe clean up some urine or an accident. But I understand because they have special needs.
I always tell them (Metro School colleagues) it's like 300 or so students here, 100 and something on staff, it's six of us on our custodial staff. So it takes us, like you say, it takes a village to raise a kid, it takes a village to take care of this building. So teachers and staff have been wonderful help. They wipe down their tables and stuff and their room to help us. Sometimes hourly we would go out and make sure we're getting railings, door handles, panic bars, any place that hands are touching constantly we were constantly wiping down, making sure that more rooms are getting mopped more often than before. Everything was enhanced. All cleaning systems were enhanced.
One of the new things as part of helping with COVID, they have made rooms in each school that are called isolation rooms. So if a student comes in and they possibly have a fever, some kind of sign or symptom that they're not well, and they shouldn't be in the classroom, they keep them in that room until the parent is able to come pick them up. And once they leave that room, we go into that room and we spray it down with the electrostatic cleaner and it has a chemical that’s used, it kind of mists the air. And so we can clean the air and everything.
A lot of times people don't take into consideration that other people have things going on. This pandemic has put a lot of extra stress on people. One of my staff members, he is from Nicaragua and he lost both of his parents within a three-day time span. And he wasn't able to go and say his final goodbyes or anything.
I actually tested positive for COVID twice myself, twice. The first time I really believe it was a false positive because I wasn't sick. The second time in January, myself and my husband we both had COVID with pneumonia. Oh, it was very horrible. I think the pneumonia in my opinion might have been worse than the COVID. I'm not a sick person. I don't get sick. I don't get colds. I don't have any underlying health issues. And we honestly don't know where I could have picked it up. I don't think it was from school because it was actually at the end of the Christmas break and it was time to return and I never returned. So we both were sick for maybe about two weeks, not able to eat. I lost seventeen pounds.
It made me anxious at first, you know, them coming back in the building, staff coming back in the building, students. I was glad to see them back and I'm glad that we were able to keep the exposures to a minimum. I knew that we were a strong team, we were prepared for challenges. We stood up to that challenge, and it made me proud that we were able to deal with the challenges with minimal complaints, you know, we were just able to get in there and just do what needed to be done.
- Zabrina Stephens