Since the onset of COVID-19, cleaning measures have been strengthened at all Near North District School Board (NNDSB) buildings – measures that have kept COVID-19 numbers low in board schools.
Deb Lamb, an NNDSB facilities supervisor says custodians are frequently cleaning high-touch and high traffic areas in their buildings, in addition to increasing the concentration of cleaning disinfectant solution.
“We’ve really upped the disinfectant. We have peroxide disinfectant that we use on door handles, walls, push plates, push bars, light switches, desks, sinks, taps, toilets, stalls.”
Lamb added that custodians are actively cleaning commonly touched items and constantly monitoring the cleanliness of the building throughout the school day because preventative measures are key in keeping everyday viruses along with COVID-19 from spreading.
“Custodians are really the first line in keeping our children from being sick.”
Director of Education Craig Myles said, “Our custodians play a vital role in maintaining a safe environment for students, staff, and the community. Each day custodians come into work, ensuring that health and safety remain top of mind. Without their dedication, our facilities would not be in a condition to support a safe teaching and learning environment. Thank you for keeping our schools a safe place to learn.”
In comparison to other school boards and regions in Ontario, the number of COVID-19 positive cases in NNDSB schools has been very low. Jason Mirtl, NNDSB’s acting Manager of Plant and Facilities says this is in part to the outstanding job the custodians are doing each day.
“It really does speak volumes of the great work that our custodians are doing every day to meet enhanced sanitizing requirements for the safety of staff and students. The custodial staff have played a vital role in preventing further spread.”
As additional prevention measures, each NNDSB school has hand sanitizer located at every entrance and exit. When students enter the building in the morning and after recess, staff ensure students are wearing their masks and sanitizing their hands.
Upon entry to schools, students and staff are greeted by information posters and signage on safe practices to be followed to ensure the safety of all. Also, in the schools are appropriately placed directional arrows on the floor to ensure a safe and physically distanced traffic flow.
Though students and staff should not attend school when they are not feeling well, schools have an isolation area if people become unwell during the day. When that area has been occupied, it is immediately rendered unusable until a thorough cleaning has taken place, including the walls.
In the event of a positive COVID-19 case(s) associated with someone within the school community, additional custodians are brought to that school to help with a thorough sanitization of the building. The process includes washing down every chair and every desk in the affected room(s), all washrooms are washed from top to bottom and all touch points are sanitized – push bars, light switches, doorknobs, pencil sharpeners, doors, etc.
While the COVID-19 virus is new and easily transmitted, these enhanced cleaning measures have been implemented for years. Any time a school had an outbreak of pink eye or another communicable disease, an enhanced cleaning protocol was enacted by custodians.
“Our custodians really take health and safety seriously to provide a safe environment for students and staff,” said Lamb.