No surprise that a lot of testing is going on in Livingston Parish Public Schools these days, but a new type of test that does not affect any student grades is getting much attention.

The new test assesses the level of cleanliness of surfaces in the school system’s many classrooms and buildings. Professionals are using ATP meters to measure relative light units that rapidly identify living organisms on inanimate surfaces.

ATP, or Adenosine Tri-Phosphate, is an energy molecule that is present in all living cells, according to a news release. If it is alive or was once alive, it contains ATP — this is true for animal cells, plant cells and bacterial cells. A measurement of ATP can quickly correlate to a measurement of how clean a surface is — the less ATP, the less contaminants present and the cleaner the surface.

“We are conducting routine tests on our campuses to determine how effective our cleaning efforts are and where there might be areas that we’ve missed or need to address more vigorously,” said Risk Management Coordinator Wendy Gill.

She said the ATP meter testing is done in 10 common traffic areas on every campus — the front main entry door, the waiting area in the front office, the cafeteria, the library, the school’s isolation room and five random classrooms.

“The good news is that of the 170 tests conducted at 17 school sites tested to date, only a total of eight sites had areas on their campuses that have to be re-treated. The rest had no areas that scored below a hospital-grade sanitization level,” Gill said.

Gill said the district is currently testing its remaining campuses. A total of 43 schools and learning campuses are being utilized in Livingston Parish.

“Our policy is that if one to three of the targeted areas on a campus do not score at hospital grade on the test, then we fog the high touch points in the rooms that failed with disinfectant and the protective coating. If four or more of the targeted areas do not meet that score, then high touch points in the entire school are fogged with disinfectant and PREVNT is reapplied as well,” she said.

Gill said that if an entire school needs to be treated, she can summon a professional cleaning crew to the school site in an hour and have the job completed in that same evening. If the size of the school would not allow the treatment to be completed in a single evening, she said professionals would do the treatment on a Saturday.

“The safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff are our No. 1 priority. We want to create healthy environments where learning can flourish,” Assistant Superintendent Stephen Parrill said. “To do that, we have to be sure that we’re taking the right steps that are needed. That why it’s so important that we are checking our cleaning efforts with this testing procedure.

“We feel that our cleaning procedures, as well as our staff and students working to be actively COVID safe during the school day, are a positive correlation to our less than 1% infection rate for both our students and employees,” Parrill added.

Gill said the district’s cleaning effort include a series of disinfectant products and procedures.

She said the first step is for all rooms to be sprayed with PREVNT. This product’s main ingredient is Titanium Dioxide which is used in products like candy, doughnut toppings and toothpaste. This product creates a protective coating on surfaces to lessen the ability of bacteria and viruses to easily attach to objects. These “protected” surfaces are sprayed with disinfectant daily, and often multiple times a day, with an electrostatic sprayer that magnetizes the liquid to better attach to objects.

At the same time, Gill said teachers are equipped with spray bottles of Bioesque, a botanical disinfectant with the active ingredient of Thymol, that they can use to disinfect high-traffic areas. Students are also provided with baby wipes to clean surfaces in their immediate learning areas prior to leaving the classroom. The wipes are nonabrasive and safe to students, and they help to keep surfaces clean without chemically breaking down the protective coating that has been sprayed onto the surfaces.

Gill said the multi-layered cleaning procedures were put in place based on the guidance provided by the national Centers for Disease Control and the Louisiana Department of Education and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.