Cleaning campus in the time of COVID-19

The University of Utah’s Facilities Management crew works tirelessly to keep our campus clean and organized. In this time of COVID-19, it is also our front line in keeping the U community safe and stopping the spread of the virus.

Facilities crews training for COVID-19 cleaning.

When the threat of COVID-19 became a reality in mid-March, members of the custodial teams began special training on virus awareness and preparedness as well as enhanced cleaning procedures. Since it was already cold and flu season, many of the cleaning procedures were already standard including cleaning and disinfecting touch points in buildings across campus several times a day.

As cases of COVID-19 began to occur on campus, the crews began to mobilize to prevent the spread. When a case was identified, or even suspected, crews would first shut down the areas where the affected person was for at least 24 hours from their last entry. After that 24-hour period, the crews moved in to clean areas to eradicate any traces of the virus where the infected person may have been. This included a deep sanitation of all hard surfaces—including door handles, elevator buttons and handrails.

Once it became clear that campus life, as we knew it, would not be continuing, the crews began transitioning their cleaning toward closing buildings down for the time being. Once a building was identified as closed, crews went through to decontaminate all hard surfaces. This did not include personal items, however. After decontamination, areas remain closed with posted signs alerting those trying to enter the buildings that they should not.

Campus will reopen. We know that. For now, the best way to thank our facilities workers is to stay home, thereby preserving their hard work and protecting them and the campus community. Yes, it may be more convenient to work in your office—but this is not the time. This is the time to stay safe, stay home and to support those who are required to be on campus.

Once you are allowed back on campus though, please make sure your workspace is sanitary. After all, the facilities crews are not cleaning personal items or lab spaces. While closures should have been long enough for any viruses to die, you can never be too safe. Take time to clean areas with a solution that is at least 70% alcohol. Oh, and remember to wash your hands.

We are lucky and grateful to have such a steadfast facilities crew diligently working to keep the community safe. As the pandemic continues to unfold, we know they will continue doing all they can to keep buildings safe, secure and virus-free.