Our custodial team has always been an essential part of the campus community. Since the onset of the novel coronavirus outbreak in 2020, their work to keep the campus clean has become even more vital to the health of our community. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic presented numerous challenges, our team was ready to answer the call because of their resiliency and readiness for dealing with virus outbreaks.
Despite a reduced number of staff available during the pandemic, our custodians worked tirelessly to keep millions of square feet of our campus clean. Every weeknight, each custodian is responsible for cleaning roughly 40,000 square feet. To put this in perspective, that is equivalent to cleaning an entire football field in one shift! The team also adjusted to new protocols for following social distancing guidelines. This included modifying work schedules so that custodians would be in different areas of a building at a time to reduce the risk of exposure.
Now that UNT is resuming the full on-campus experience, the team is taking the lessons learned during the pandemic response to adapt to a full campus while keeping our staff and community safe. Resources such as sanitizing kits in classrooms and hand sanitizer stations remain on campus. High-touch and high-traffic areas continue to take priority for cleaning and disinfection. This includes common spaces for students such as dining halls, classrooms, bathrooms, and study areas.
The team's preparedness also extends to the products and materials they have on-hand at any given time. Year-round, they keep a steady supply of resources available, but increase the supply shelves each year during flu season. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, our team had the materials they needed to respond quickly.
The materials UNT chooses to clean with are always put through a thorough approval process, so we know they are safe and effective. David Barkenhagen, senior facilities maintenance manager, emphasized that “UNT does not, nor have we ever cut corners when it comes to safe and effective cleaning products. Providing a healthy environment for the UNT community is our top priority.”
Though our staff was equipped and ready to respond to the pandemic conditions, they also expanded their methods to include new technologies. The team started using 360-degree electrostatic sprayers that can clean a space very quickly by releasing disinfecting solutions that cover all surfaces. These devices are used in large spaces such as classrooms and communal spaces in residence halls. These devices will now become part of our custodial team’s arsenal of tools to clean campus.
UNT’s custodial teams remain working diligently to provide the cleanest and safest spaces for the students, faculty, and staff of UNT, and continue rising to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our custodial team members put in tremendous effort and dedication to maintain the safety of our entire community, no matter the situation,” says Barkenhagen.