TAMPA BAY, FL — When Pepin Academies' campuses sent out a plea for help reopening the exceptional education schools safely during the coronavirus pandemic, staff never expected to receive an offer from a local company for free nanotechnology treatment to protect the three campuses against coronavirus.
Bio-Safe Surfaces, and partner Pro-Clean-USA, came forward, offering to provide free deep-cleaning and sanitization services for all three Pepin Academies’ campuses for the entire 2020-21 school year. Worth more than $110,000 in services, approximately 100 classrooms and common areas across the Hillsborough and Pasco County campuses will be treated with BioShield.
The in-kind services provided by Bio-Safe Surfaces and Pro-Clean-USA are in response to Pepin Academies’ call for donations as part of their inaugural Adopt-a-Classroom and Adopt-a-Student campaign.
“We saw the news that the Pepin Academies Foundation is launching fundraising campaigns to help students and teachers, and it was an easy decision for both our companies,” said Michael Fineo, Bio-Safe Surfaces’ chief executive officer. “Instead of just Adopt-a-Classroom and Adopt-a-Student, we decided to adopt all three campuses. This will create and maintain a safer environment for the entire administration, teachers, staff and, of course, for all the special students and their families.”
The EPA-approved antimicrobial surface protection is 99.9 percent effective and lasts up to 90 days. The three-step process begins by hand cleaning all surfaces in the school with a specific focus on the high-touch areas. The crew then sanitizes using environmentally safe Vital Oxide disinfectant before applying the long-term surface protectant that inhibits the growth of microorganisms. The three campuses will receive an initial deep-clean and full-service sanitization, followed by continued touch-up treatments throughout the year.
“Pepin Academies is grateful to our partners at Bio-Safe Surfaces and Pro-Clean-USA for donating their antimicrobial cleaning services to all of our campuses and recognizing us as an essential part of our community,” said Dr. Jeff Skowronek, Pepin Academies’ Hillsborough executive director. “The added layer of protection afforded by their generosity will enhance our existing COVID-19 precautions and allow us to remain focused on continuing our mission in a clean, safe, therapeutic educational environment.”
This added layer of defense against the coronavirus will work in tandem with the school’s existing daily sanitation partner, Gator Cleaning Solutions. This team not only works to keep the campus safe, but is also a participating Pepin Academies Transition Program job site. The transition program combines vocationally based training with life and job readiness courses, and is designed for young adults ages 18 to 22 who have an identified learning or learning-related disability.
Gator Cleaning Solutions works as one of these transition partners, helping students to adjust to the work environment through experience and employment opportunities.
“I feel great that I’ve had the opportunity to join Gator and help the school feel safe given the current situation with COVID-19,” said Paul Morgan, a Pepin Academies transition student employed with Gator. Morgan has been a Pepin Academies student since seventh grade and is now in his last year of the transition program. Over the summer, he began his employment with Gator and now works at the Tampa campus to ensure that coronavirus sanitation standards are met throughout the day.
“The transition program has helped me grow into a better person,” said Morgan. “It gave me a better understanding as to what the real world feels like.”
Established in 1999, Pepin Academies is a nonprofit, tuition-free, independent public charter schools serving more than 1,100 students with learning and learning-related disabilities in third through 12th grades in Hillsborough and Pasco counties, and provides a transitional job training program for young adults ages 18-22 years old.
Qualified as Exceptional Student Education center schools, Pepin Academies focuses on improving academic success and social achievement. Pepin Academies’ three campuses are located in Tampa, Riverview and New Port Richey.