Stomach virus leaves PUSD with a hefty cleaning bill | News | PleasantonWeekly.com |

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Stomach virus leaves PUSD with a hefty cleaning bill

Also: Board to consider approving new deal with teachers, work for Harvest Park library rebuild

For its first regular meeting of the new year on Tuesday, the Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees is set to consider approving $233,948 in general funds to cover professional cleaning services used to sanitize five PUSD sites during a viral gastroenteritis outbreak late last year.

The hefty bill was racked up in October, when reports began surfacing about “a high number of students who were reporting illness or symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and fever” at Pleasanton Middle School, according to the district.

PUSD notified the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD), who “determined that the illnesses met their definition of viral gastroenteritis outbreak.” Student absences at Pleasanton Middle School were significant during the outbreak; attendance rates at the site fell to 59.89% on one specific date, Oct. 25.

District officials were advised “to adhere to specific guidelines in order to slow and stop the spread” at Pleasanton Middle as well as Hart Middle, Lydiksen and Hearst elementaries, and Foothill High School. The guidelines included “specific cleaning and disinfecting protocol” for specific areas at the sites.

According to PUSD, the “severity of the outbreak” warranted hiring a professional cleaning service for “needed human power and equipment to meet the clean up and disinfection needs.”

The extra cleaning requirements were removed once ACPHD determined the outbreak was under control and absence levels were normal again. Because the district did not know how much work would be needed, Restoration Management Company, the contracted business, was authorized to work on a time and material basis from Oct. 23 to Nov. 21, resulting in the high-priced cleaning tab.

PUSD recently submitted a claim to the East Bay Schools Insurance Group, but it is still undetermined if the district’s policy will cover it. The district has also prepared an emergency waiver under a material decrease provision to recover state funds that Pleasanton Middle lost due to numerous absences during the outbreak.

There are three situations under state law that permit a school to file an emergency waiver: a material decrease resulting from “fire, flood, impassable roads, epidemic, earthquake, safety hazard, a non-district transportation service strike, or a military threat,” “an unforeseeable closure resulting from a fire, flood, epidemic, military threat, or other extraordinary condition,” and “the loss or destruction of attendance records which precludes the preparation of accurate attendance records.”

Another waiver was also prepared under the school closure provision for Fairlands, Lydiksen and Foothill, which were all closed during the PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs in late October. All three campuses were closed Oct. 28 “as a precaution, as our fire alarms, safety systems and lights were not functional until after power was restored,” according to district documents.

PUSD can claim approximately $50,000 in lost average-daily-attendance revenue by applying for the emergency waiver. Both waivers must be approved first by the Alameda County Office of Education before they are sent to the California Department of Education for final approval.

Tuesday's meeting of the PUSD Board of Trustees starts at 7:00 p.m. inside the district board room, 4455 Bernal Ave.

In other business

* PUSD has reached a tentative agreement with the Association of Pleasanton Teachers for the 2019-20 school year.

Documents show a 2.75% increase to all APT salaries retroactive to July 1, 2019, and the district will also “apply the value of 0.55% (one (1) day) towards an additional optional day...for district-directed professional development.”

The employee bereavement policy would also be updated, and restrictions were added to prohibit administration from asking teachers to “perform any voluntary or mandated activities” during their duty-free lunch period.

The contract also calls for the establishment of a 6-member joint benefits subcommittee to “explore health and welfare costs, impacts on members, and options, for the purpose of informing future APT negotiations.” If the agreement is approved, the subcommittee would start meeting at the end of the month.

* Several contracts for repair work on the fire-damaged library at Harvest Park Middle School are up for approval on Tuesday. The Board will decide whether to ratify several agreements for services related to the restoration project, including a $1.7 million construction contract with Pre Con Industries Inc.

Rebuilding costs will be covered by the district’s insurance policy, and $140,700 will come from various district funds including for capital outlay projects. Work is expected to start this winter and finish by summer.

Julia Baum is a staff writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. Reach her at jbaum@pleasantonweekly.com or 925-600-0840, ext. 111.

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