When it comes to heading off the spread of the flu and other potentially infectious diseases, an ounce of prevention can be worth more than a pound of cure.

That is why volunteers from Culpeper Health and Rehabilitation Center on Madison Road on the south end of the town of Culpeper partnered with Culpeper County Public Schools last week to provide a little extra protection in the county’s 11 public schools.

On Wednesday and Thursday afternoons after schools closed, personnel from CH&R visited all of the county schools and the Phoenix building between Culpeper County High School and Culpeper Middle School to spray some of the buildings’ common areas and clinics.

An EPA-registered disinfectant called vital oxide was used, public schools Facilities Services Coordinator Eric Dinkins said.

While Dinkins said the schools already use vital oxide in the schools when requested by the schools’ nursing staffs, the school system was happy to partner with CH&R this week to provide a little extra protection for the system’s 8,900 students.

“Our schools’ environmental programs are already doing an excellent job,” he said. “This is just an extra step.”

Dinkins said the spray was used to disinfect the main offices and clinics in the county’s elementary and middle schools, while the two high schools received spraying in their weight rooms, band and chorus rooms as well.

“Most of the high traffic is in these areas, with parents and students going in and out,” he said.

Susan Hatfield, CH&R’s director of admissions, said the vital oxide is a safe chemical that is sprayed as a mist on surfaces, and quickly kills most flu and other viruses.

Hatfield said vital oxide mist can help in fighting influenza A and B, hepatitis A and legionella.

Since children often bring germs home from school and spread them to family members, helping keep children healthy during flu season also can help keep the adult population healthy, Hatfield said.

“Schoolchildren, along with the elderly, are two of our most vulnerable populations,” she said.

CH&R Environmental Services Director Francine Perry said the Health and Rehab Center sprays its facility once each week.

There is minimal cost involved in helping the schools since the center already had equipment on hand, Perry said.

Hatfield said CH&R initiated the weekly spraying program in 2018.

“We’ve had great success with this,” she said. ”We haven’t seen an increase in flu at Culpeper Health and Rehab since we started. It’s been really helpful.”

Hatfield said her husband, Greg, works at Eastern View High School, and the couple have children who attend the public schools.

“We are donating staff time and materials to this as a community partnership,” she said. “We just want to help our community.”

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