Do you have specific cleaning standards in place for maintaining the facility? 

Martinez: Yes, our standard is that “We Clean for Health” what that means is that we use less toxic, Green Seal and EPA-approved cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants, with our cleaning procedures we use microfiber dusters and rags, vacuums with HEPA filters, proper floor care, sweeping floors multiple times throughout the day to reduce dust, mopping and scrubbing floors daily, using gym floor finish with low VOCs (volatile organic compound). To make sure we hold to these standards, we provide a combination of monthly, quarterly, and yearly training. Our trainings range from large to small groups, one-on-one, online, or Zoom We also bring in experts and vendors to help and support our training. We conduct quarterly inspections to make sure we are keeping to our standards and holding employees accountable if they don’t meet them. 

Archuletta: We train our staff through our office of professional development, at staff meetings, and through our QA program. We have both core task standards (time allotted to complete tasks) and cleaning outcomes. 

Eichman: Yes, we have specific cleaning standards which are designed with the goal of maintaining a clean, safe, and healthy building for students, staff, and visitors. In addition, our custodians are expected to adhere to these cleaning standards and are provided with ongoing training that plays a crucial role in achieving this goal. We have clearly defined cleaning protocols which include guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting various areas of the facility, such as classrooms, restrooms, shared areas, and high-touch surfaces. The standards also specify the types of cleaning products and equipment to be used, as well as the frequency of cleaning tasks. 

The frequency of training sessions for the custodial staff varies depending on factors such as staff turnover, changes in cleaning protocols or regulations, and the introduction of new equipment or technologies. However, regular refresher training is done and is beneficial to reinforce proper cleaning techniques, safety practices, and compliance with standards and regulations. 

MacNeil: Our cleaning standards are called the Maroon Standards, as one of the university colors is maroon. They are reviewed on an ongoing basis, but typically looked at prior to putting the budget together for the next fiscal year. Part of our custodial program is that all new B & G Custodial employees go through three days of training before they even start in their position. Within our Custodial Program, we have the Training Manager who does monthly in-service on several topics to keep our standards at the forefront of their minds. The B & G Supervisors are responsible for doing so many building assessments per cleaning squad to see the condition of the spaces. If there is a trend in deficiencies in a specific area, it can than be a topic for a monthly training session. The Associate Director for Custodial Programs also conducts monthly meetings with all the supervisors who have custodial reporting to them so that areas of concern can be addressed and all are hearing the same message. 

Krause: Yes. It’s too long to share here, we have an entire Training Manual that outlines step by step how every cleaning task should be completed including products and equipment to use in completing the task. Initially staff are trained when they start with us. We review various portions over the course of the year, but my opinion remains that we don’t conduct training enough. 

Boyd: Yes, we have Standard Operating Procedures for the following areas (1) – Quality Control Program, (2) Floor Care SOP, (3) Equipment Supplies SOP, (4) Hazard Communications SOP (4) Infection Control SOP, (4) Standard Clean SOP, (5) Safety Coach Cards. Initial Training occurs during the first 30 days of employment, throughout the year, and as needed. Each school/location has a binder in the custodial office and the main office of the school. 

How do you overcome hurdles surrounding scheduling cleaning when facilities are in use so many hours of the day? 

Martinez: We do a few things. Overtime is one option. If that isn’t approved or we can’t find anyone who wants OT, we adjust schedules. For example, if we have a program that is going to run late or is in an area that an employee is assigned to clean, we may adjust their schedule to come in later. If that’s not an option, we may have that employee help other employees complete their areas and after the event the crew will team up and clean up. In high schools, teaming up to clean up after an event is common practice, or the day shift employees in secondary schools will come in early to help with the cleanup. Our last option is to ask other departments to help. We have had the grounds crew, maintenance, and child nutrition help us on certain occasions, but it is not common practice. 

Archuletta: We have a health and safety cleaning protocol that outlines what must be done each night (restrooms, trash, food consumption spaces, early childhood education rooms, and nurse stations). We then move to a deferred classroom cleaning program we call A&B. This means that we vacuum/sweep classroom floors in rotation. For example, classrooms on the east facing side of the building one night and west facing rooms the next night. 

Eichman: Overcoming hurdles related to scheduling cleaning in facilities used for various purposes requires careful planning, coordination, and flexibility and was a struggle for us in the past. Here are some of the strategies we use to address this challenge: 

a. Flexible Cleaning Schedules: We have implemented flexible cleaning schedules that can accommodate the numerous and diverse activities and events taking place in our schools. This involves scheduling cleaning tasks during off-peak hours, such as early mornings, evenings, or weekends, when the schools are less busy. 

b. Prioritization of Areas: Identify high-traffic areas and prioritize cleaning efforts accordingly. We focus on cleaning and disinfecting frequently used areas such as classrooms, restrooms, cafeterias, and public areas more frequently, while adjusting the cleaning frequency for less frequently used spaces. 

c. Communication and Coordination: Establishing clear lines of communication and coordination between cleaning staff, facility management, event organizers, and other stakeholders has been instrumental in our success. Sharing schedules and event calendars in advance helps to ensure that cleaning tasks can be scheduled around activities and events without disrupting operations. 

d. Efficient Cleaning Practices: Implementation of efficient cleaning practices and procedures to minimize downtime and maximize productivity is another tool we use. This involves using timesaving cleaning techniques, deploying cleaning staff strategically, and utilizing technology or equipment to streamline cleaning processes. 

e. Emergency Response Plans: Development of contingency plans and protocols to address unforeseen circumstances or emergencies that may require immediate cleaning attention has assisted us in being ready to manage unanticipated changes. This includes protocols for responding to spills, accidents, or other incidents that may impact the cleanliness and safety of the facility. 

f. Cross-Training and Flexibility: The cross-training of our custodial staff to manage a variety of tasks and adapt to changing schedules and priorities is key to our continued success, as well. This allows for greater flexibility in scheduling cleaning tasks and ensures that cleaning staff can effectively respond to the school's dynamic needs. 

MacNeil: There are a number of things in place that help with the above hurdles. With approx. 500 B & G Custodians we have working at our campus, we have cleaning covered around the clock. Our day shift starts at 5:00 a.m. This allows us to get into buildings to get offices, classrooms, labs, etc. that people are in after 8:00 a.m. After that, they are then able to concentrate on public areas that are open and not being used. About 50 percent of our buildings are cleaned during the day using team cleaning rather than area cleaning. The other 50 percent are cleaned either on the second or third shift based on the building's activity. FM has five districts and a couple of these districts have weekend or late-night events. That is where we get creative in making schedules that will work for what we need, but will also attract an employee into taking the position. An example of this is working three 12-hour shifts or four 10-hour shifts, giving them a stretch of three or four days off. In some rare situations, we will post overtime if we don't have the coverage due to a planned vacation or out for another reason. 

Krause: Honestly, inside dormitories, it’s a lot of constant communication. It’s about knowing when the classrooms will be used and having staff clean them beforehand. We also have an events team that assists with cleanups after community events. It’s very different at a college or university in the housing areas compared to a K-12 program or in a college recreational facility. 

Boyd: The scheduling can be very difficult but we use a variation of flexible schedules, overtime, and substitute custodians. 

previous page of this article:
Challenges to Involving Building Occupants in Cleaning Programs
next page of this article:
Cleaning Managers Discuss Green, IAQ and Infection Prevention in Educational Facilities