Right now, 15 states and 2 U.S. territories have ordered or recommended school building closures for the rest of the academic year due to concerns with the rapid spread of COVID-19. These closures have disrupted the formal education of approximately 55 million students across U.S. public and private institutions. But they have not slowed the activity of school custodial and housekeeping workers, who have been working tirelessly to maintain a healthy and safe environment for students and staff when onsite learning resumes.
While many schools are closed for learning, some higher-ed students remain on campus due to lack of housing alternatives. Critical scientific research must proceed. And essential facility operations continue. These inhabited spaces must be kept clean and free from potential exposure, and custodial and housekeeping workers are on the frontlines of protection.
Schools with robust green cleaning programs have risen to the occasion, as demonstrated by those represented through our Healthy Green Schools & Colleges (HGSC) Program. The University of Washington has developed creative ways to communicate their cleaning efforts to the broader community and assure those on campus they are up to task. Salt Lake City School District has provided their bloodborne pathogen training publicly so other schools and school districts can benefit. And HGSC school facility & custodial directors banded together to create a COVID-19 Webinar Series to provide immediate peer-to-peer learning opportunities centered on cleaning for COVID-19.
School custodial and housekeeping staff are unsung heroes during this global pandemic. On National Healthy Schools Day, they deserve our thanks for everything they’re doing to keep us safe. Even if we’re not able to thank them in person, sending a letter or an email to your school’s custodial department is a simple way to let them know you value their role. It’s the least we can do. Visit the Healthy Schools Network and click on the National Healthy Schools Day: Plan Your Activity Page to help get you plan your way to celebrate the custodial and housekeeping team keeping our schools safe and healthy.