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Pflugerville ISD teachers question cleanliness of schools as some receive moldy disinfectant wipes

The school district said all of the wipes with mildew have been replaced, but teachers are still concerned.

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas — Pflugerville ISD teachers are questioning the school district's cleaning methods after some were given moldy disinfectant wipes to clean classrooms earlier this year. Even though Kim Carroll quit teaching for Pflugerville ISD because of COVID-19 concerns, she keeps herself in the loop and said she was alarmed to find out about the wipes. 

"Once they started letting kids back on campus or face-to-face learning, we knew it was only a matter of time that there was going to be cases pop up," said Carroll. "I literally cannot move on. I have to be a part of this."

"We've been hearing reports from teachers with serious concerns about the district's enforcement of safety protocols and disinfecting procedures. You know, we had teachers received white buckets that developed mold," said another former PfISD teacher, Dan Dawer. 

Credit: Kim Carroll

Pflugerville ISD sent an email to families and staff members in September apologizing for the cleaning products with mildew. The school district said it replaced the wipes, only to find the problem happened again. They gave teachers alcohol-based wipes.

"To date, we have not received any reports of mildew on these wipes. In a step to further ensure safety and cleanliness, we also deployed a spray bottle cleaner to be used to be used in addition to wipes," said PfISD chief communications officer Tamra Spence. 

"It's our friends who and colleagues who are still in school every day," said Dawer. 

These reports of moldy wipes are upsetting to Dawer. KVUE interviewed with Dawer when he was still employed by the district, and he said the communication was misleading and confusing. Dawer decided to resign on the first day of school. 

"It's still very painful and difficult thing for me to think about because, you know, I've been at this – this is my 11th year as a teacher," said Dawer. "I felt really like I had a really important role to play in my students' academic development, supporting their families. So making that decision to leave was definitely not an easy choice for me. But I felt like it was a choice I had to make both for my own family's health and safety, because I don't think that it's safe to risk contracting this virus right now for anybody, let alone the members of my family who could be at higher risk of hospitalization if they're exposed."

Dawer and Carroll have been tracking cases on their own and relaying updates to community members on their Facebook group, PfISD Stay Virtual, Stay Safe. The group addresses concerns and questions from Pflugerville ISD students, parents and teachers. 

Credit: Kim Carroll

According to Pflugerville ISD's COVID-19 dashboard, since the start of school, it's had 19 positive cases and 198 exposures to the virus. In total, 11 students and nine employees have tested positive. 

"We did update our COVID-19 dashboard yesterday to provide additional information to our staff and families. It now provides cumulative data since the week of Sept. 14 when students returned, and also provides additional campus data separating out student and staff cases and exposures," said Spence. 

One of those positive cases is from Weiss High School. PfISD said in an "abundance of caution" the district has decided to postpone the school's next two football games. This happened after multiple PfISD Stay Virtual, Stay Safe group members raised questions about these positive cases. 

"While we only have one positive case affecting the Weiss High School football program, we do have a number of exposures among our coaching staff. In an effort to put staff and student safety first, we will be placing the program on hold for the next two weeks," said Spence. 

"These are people who I care about. I care about my friends and colleagues. I care about my students and their families, and they know that they can reach out to me with their concerns," said Dawer.

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