Unsung Heroes of the COVID-19 Pandemic
On May 18, 2020, Furman announced its plans to return to campus for the fall semester. Since then, the administration has been working to provide a positive student experience while maintaining the community’s safety. As some members of the Furman community grapple with the new health and safety guidelines, one group has embraced their added responsibilities - Furman’s custodial staff.
Jim Benes, the manager of custodial services for academic buildings and the sports facilities, said the custodial staff is working hard to keep everyone healthy and safe on campus. To account for around 40 staff members cleaning 130+ classrooms twice a day, the custodial staff has reevaluated and adjusted their practices since the beginning of the fall semester.
“The four Zone Coordinators are doing a fantastic job organizing the cleaning and disinfecting across campus. We are doing everything we can to limit contact between custodial staff and folks on campus,” Benes explained. “We want to maximize distancing and minimize contact as much as possible.” One such adjustment was reducing the frequency of office cleaning. The custodial staff now focuses heavily on classrooms, restrooms, and other frequently touched surfaces. The faculty have assisted in this effort by maintaining the department spaces between weekly cleanings.
In addition to reducing contact with other members of campus, Furman gave the custodial staff personal protective equipment and CDC-approved disinfectants. Although many staff members are nervous about COVID-19, they are happy to contribute to the health of the community. “They love Furman and want to do what they can to keep it safe,” Benes shared.
Despite recent violations of the Paladin Promise resulting in several positive COVID-19 cases, Benes applauded the student body for their hard work “complying and doing what they’re supposed to be doing, which we really appreciate.” The custodial staff has placed hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in each classroom for student and faculty use. “Keep doing the right thing, wear your masks, and help us out a little by wiping down the shared surfaces,” Benes said. “The biggest thing is keeping you here on campus, and we all want our community safe and healthy.”