Who you gonna call? Custodians make big changes amid pandemic


If there is a global pandemic passing through your school, who you gonna call? The custodial staff.

COVID-19 has discombobulated the 2020 school year, causing both students and staff alike to take precautionary measures in order to keep themselves and the people around them safe. 

While students and administrators have gone to great lengths in order to maintain safety, the party carrying the brunt of maintaining safety, while still being largely overlooked, is the custodial staff. The custodial team has been putting in an abundance of time and effort into keeping the school safe during this time since students entered quarantine back in March of 2020.

“[The custodians] went through probably more of the products that we had on hand at that time, and did a good cleaning at that point in time,” District Maintenance Foreman John Allen said. “As it went on, we learned of other issues and products that we could use to do a better job.”

The responsibilities of the custodial staff only increased once students and staff started school after the hybrid schedule was implemented. The custodial staff now had to make the transition from cleaning in order to keep the school in good condition, to cleaning in order to keep students and staff safe. 

The custodians now must perform a rigorous cleaning regimen each day in order to maintain the safety of the attendants of the high school.

“We make sure they disinfect the entire building, bathrooms everything classrooms. It’s done daily, it’s done multiple times daily,” Allen said. “We make sure that everybody has facemasks, you know, different types of facemasks for the different issues we have throughout the buildings, they make sure everybody has gloves, they make sure teachers have product in their own rooms so during the day they can clean their rooms with a disinfectant spray. We went ahead and installed hand sanitizer pumps in every classroom.”

The custodial staff has also acquired electronic sprayers (lovingly referred to as “Ghostbuster packs,” though if referring to them as the packs from “Ghostbusters”, the correct term would be “Proton Packs”), which they use to disinfect the building via spraying. Students can observe these “GOHStbusters” spraying down all surfaces in the building with a chemical solution that actually kills the virus.

While these supplies are now used ceaselessly by the custodial staff in order to keep the school sanitized, even acquiring these basic supplies proved to be a tribulation for the custodial staff.

“The hardest thing in the beginning, was making sure we had enough product, as it was hard to get a hold of anything, it was tough on me to find that, and to go through different companies to get the products that we needed because nobody had everything we needed at that point in time,” Allen said.

The duty of the custodial personnel has only increased as students have returned to school full time as of Oct. 12th. Now, instead of trying to preserve the health and safety of a few hundred students per day, the custodial team now had to preserve the safety of a few thousand students per day.

“[The custodians] are going to keep on the same schedule, the same system they’ve been using, walking through the building daily,” Allen said. “You can’t do much more than what we were doing, even with that many children back.”

The custodians have had to put in a vast amount of time in order to allow the school to continue to be a safe environment for students to inhabit for seven hours every day. The afternoon and evening hours were first changed at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown in order to clean the school in a more thorough manner. It would appear as though the custodial hours will continue to change with students returning to school full time.

While the custodians have been doing most of the in-school sanitization, teachers have also been issued cleaning supplies, such as disinfectants. Teachers now take the time to disinfect their classrooms in order to keep themselves and their students safe. This includes thoroughly cleaning desks and chairs, as well as other classroom equipment. Teachers have also had to make systematic changes to their class structure in order to allocate time for cleaning.

“Biggest adjustment would be ending class a little early to leave time for cleaning, for me it’s a special case cause I am eight months pregnant,” Algebra II and IB Math teacher Alyssia Kobasic said. “I have to cut classes short about five minutes or so just to make sure I get everything done before my new group starts coming in next period.”

The burden of maintaining safety only increased for the teachers after students returned to school full time.

“Definitely an added stress level because if you think about the bell schedule, we only have four minutes between classes, so I have large class sizes, 28 29 30 students, so I went from cleaning maybe nine to fifteen chairs, still cleaned all the tables cause everybody had a table, but then the number of chairs doubled,” Kobasic said. “Having to clean 29, 30 chairs plus all the tables in four minutes, it’s a little stressful.”

Seat sanitization has been proved to be for teachers all around the school.

“It is especially challenging to clean seating for 30 students while one group is still packing up and a new group is getting seated,” chemistry teacher Heather Corey said.

Teachers now have to be extra cautious about in-class activities as well. For instance, classes such as chemistry now have to disinfect all of the equipment that they use in each class before it can be used in the next class period. Furthermore, math teachers are no longer allowed to pass out calculators, so as to limit contact. To add, the time-honored tradition of having poor, unsuspecting students go up to the whiteboard to answer questions they probably do not know the answer to has also been stricken from classroom procedures so as to limit contact.

While the teachers are working through their own sanitation issues, many are still appreciative of the hard-work the custodians have been putting in.

“We are so thankful for all of the work they’re doing,” Kobasic said. “We know between class changes they are cleaning the handrails for the steps and whatnot, so we know they’re putting in a lot of work cleaning the bathrooms every period too, and so we know they’re putting in a lot of work, and so we really appreciate it.”

Are you troubled by dangerous viruses in the middle of the school day? Do you experience feelings of dread in your school building? Have you or any of your family ever come into contact with COVID-19? If the answer is yes, then do not wait another minute, pick up your phone and call the professionals, GOHStbusters.