• 77°

CASSANDRA JENKINS — PNGISD purchases new fogging machines, doubles cleaning efforts

The Port Neches-Groves Independent School District is doubling its cleaning efforts pending the arrival of students next week.

Superintendent Mike Gonzales said the district’s newest purchases will ensure all buildings are safe, clean and thoroughly sanitized.

“Over the Christmas holiday, when the flu bug was going around pretty bad, the maintenance crew started fogging the campus every Friday,” he said. “We saw an improvement in attendance after they started that fogging program and they’ve been doing it up until the day we had to cancel school.”

The district purchased additional fogging machines to provide one per campus.

“Now we’ve got enough machines where we are hoping to fog every day in those schools,” Gonzales said. “Our custodial staff is going to do a really good job with that, making sure we can fog our classrooms everyday. So when students come back, they don’t come back the next week to a sanitized room, they are coming back the next day to a sanitized room.”

Cleaning efforts also include the purchase of a 24/7 OZONE USA sanitizing ventilation system.

Prior to the contract, Gonzales said the district tried the cleaning system from another distributor after the TPC explosion in 2019.

The one-time cleaning cost the district between $60,000-70,000.

“We know it works,” Gonzales said. “All we are trying to do with that system is on the weekend try to clean the duct works because we know it’s important.”

Assistant Superintendent Julie Gauthier said in a prior interview that the system is similar to a hospital style cleaning.

“If a kid coughs or sneezes, this is immediate,” she said. “This is a 24/7 thing on top of what we’ve been doing since last year. Just with our sprayers (or foggers), we saw a huge drop in the flu last year. We are excited for what this going to provide for us.”

PNGISD is also using UV lighting as another layer of protection.

“We are going to try all sorts of stuff and see what works best,” Gonzales said. “We are fogging. We know the fogging works. The OZONE on the weekends is just another layer of protection, and the more protection we can put in our schools for our students and our staff, it’s worth it. Everything that we can do, we are trying it. We are trying to pull every rabbit out of the hat to ensure the safety and security of our schools.”

The maintenance department also picked up Texas Education Agency provided PPE from the Region V center in Beaumont.

The district is working with local industry to receive necessities. Indorama, a petrochemicals company in Port Neches, sent 500 gallons of handmade hand sanitizer to PNG with intentions to continue the trade as needed.

“We are getting some help money wise,” Gonzales said. “It’s not going to be as much, but this is not the time to try and save money. This is not the time to pinch pennies. We need to throw everything out there and do anything and everything we can to try and make sure that we know we are doing as much as we can to protect our staff and our students.”

Cassandra Jenkins is a news reporter for Port Arthur Newsmedia. She can be reached at cassie.jenkins@panews.com.