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Back to School?: Custodial Staff Planning More Expansive Cleaning

Deron Nicholls of Liberty Distributors demonstrates cleaning agents at John Marshall High School.

GLEN DALE — With the possibility of students returning to school in the fall still an open question, Marshall County Schools custodians are preparing for anything.

Around 50 custodians came to John Marshall High School on Friday for facility maintenance training. The instructor, Deron Nicholls, facility support sales manager at Liberty Distributors, spoke and showed videos on proper cleaning techniques and the new materials that will be made available.

With COVID-19 still looming nationwide alongside the typical cleaning duties of preventing the transmission of more mundane illnesses like the cold and flu, Marshall County Facilities Director Mike Price said the increased work to keep students safe would see a significant increase in the amount of work custodians will need to do.

“We’re training the staff to be proactive, so their normal routine is going to change,” Price said. “We don’t know the specifics yet, we’re working with the state on how much additional training we’re going to have, but once the kids come back here it’ll be probably twofold, as far as how much additional, and the type of cleaning, we do.

“Our staff has been pretty well engaged, and (the big change) is with the coverage of cleaning now. We always got the desks and countertops, but we really need to gear toward the table legs, railings, door handles, everything we normally take for granted.”

Still, even with the projected doubling in workload, Price said the custodial staff is ready and willing.

“It’s a positive response, because they’re not sure — their world’s changing,” Price said. “I asked them during a break about what they thought about this, and the response was very positive. They don’t know this, and there’s a lot of things they’re learning today.”

Price said Liberty offered the certification class with the order of the new supplies, and the county jumped on the opportunity.

“We looked at our staff coming down the pike, and they could be offered a specialized class on training for the COVID, so we found it very valuable for us,” Price said.

Mario Figaretti, account executive for Liberty, said that while the methods and equipment used to clean may have changed, the goal of cleanliness has not.

“Times have changed and procedures have evolved, but the end goal is the same,” he said. “A lot of what we’re teaching in there is the difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting, and instilling them with the knowledge that they need to do it correctly.”

“The more we learn about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it, surface cleaning is important,” Nicholls added. “It may not be the most important (factor), not as important as social distancing and hand sanitizing, but it can definitely play a role. If they’re not properly trained on how to remove soil from surfaces, it definitely presents a risk to children.”

The seminar began at 9 a.m. at JMHS’s Center for Performing Arts and lasted until around 3 p.m. Topics included pandemic disinfection, restroom, classroom and gymnasium cleaning and bus disinfection, concluding with review and certification.

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