Building Services uses high-tech cleaning methods to disinfect campus

Building Services cleans DeBartolo

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Building Services staff spray disinfectant in 155 DeBartolo, part of the University’s response
to the coronavirus outbreak. (Photos by Matt Cashore/University of Notre)

While faculty adapt to distance learning and most staff transition to working remotely, Building Services and other staff work on campus, safely contributing to the essential operations of the University. 

Since March 6, just before coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, Building Services has focused on disinfecting offices, residence halls and other facilities. When Governor Eric Holcomb asked all Indiana employees to work from home as much as possible, Building Services staff transitioned to working only Monday to Friday, with each team working one, eight-hour day per week. While all of the staff continue to be paid their normal salary, the division is operating on less than 20 percent of its workforce with about 30 to 40 staff for the day shift and another 20-30 people for the evening shift.

However, when Maggie Hunyadi, a custodian, heard about the change, she volunteered to come in three days per week for four-hour shifts, instead of the required eight-hour shift. Hunyadi is assigned to Raclin-Carmichael Hall, home to the Harper Cancer Research Institute and the Indiana University School of Medicine. She cares deeply about the faculty and students who conduct research there, and wanted to continue to be the one providing a clean, safe environment for them.    

The specialized coronavirus training that all Building Services staff completed guides them in how to properly disinfect spaces on campus. While wiping down all high-touch surfaces has always been part of standard procedure, they are now more focused on that step of the cleaning process. To enhance those efforts, some of the team members now use an electrostatic disinfectant sprayer that emits charged particles that adhere to surfaces more completely, disinfecting larger areas at once, including spaces that are difficult to reach.

“We focus on areas where we have the most traffic. We go to the fire station every day, sleeping areas, Hammes Mowbray Hall (police), the Main Building and Remick Commons, where many of the priests are eating. We go to the Hesburgh Library and Coleman Morse Hall and a host of other buildings every day,” says Jeff Edgerly, assistant director of Building Services.

During this unprecedented time, “We’re demonstrating teamwork, one of the University’s core values,” says Jeff Rockwell, supervisor in Building Services. “We’re taking care of building services staff members and the needs of campus. Our staff has responded well. We’re all doing whatever we can being flexible, as we have new job responsibilities; following proper safety techniques; and looking out for each other.”

In addition to disinfecting campus, some Building Services team members participated in the University’s efforts to pack textbooks and other requested items for students. Some are preparing residence halls to be unoccupied over the next few month

As part of the University’s coronavirus response, leaders in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) meet regularly to address the institution’s emerging needs.Senior Director of Emergency Management Tracy Skibins, who co-directs the EOC, says, “I am truly grateful for the tireless efforts of Building Services, especially over the course of the past several weeks as we navigate unchartered territory. Their efforts to make campus as safe and as healthy as possible, all while wearing a friendly smile, have been truly inspiring and do not go unnoticed.”