Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brock University’s Custodial Services team has followed an enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocol to ensure campus is safe for students, faculty and staff.
As the University prepares to return to in-person learning in September, the campus community can expect the same commitment to protecting health and wellness.
Although Brock’s plans and protocols evolve with changes to public health guidelines and recommendations, the Custodial Services team has continued to go above and beyond the requirements set out by public health.
“Brock’s custodians are a critical part of keeping the campus clean and protected against the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” says Ken Chan, Vice-President, Administration. “The knowledge, commitment and resilience they have demonstrated over the past 18 months is recognized and deeply valued. Their work to keep the physical environment safe extends beyond the University’s walls to the community of students, staff, faculty, alumni, local businesses and community members who will benefit from the scholarship, teaching and service taking place at Brock.”
At the centre of the custodial team’s strategy is a two-step cleaning and disinfecting process that involves using a Government of Canada-approved disinfectant-cleaner to wipe surfaces and then an electrostatic disinfecting sprayer that adds a second layer of protection.
In a classroom, lecture hall or laboratory, for example, all surfaces are pre-cleaned: desks and chairs are wiped with disinfectant-cleaner, floors are swept and washed, and garbages are emptied. Then, the electrostatic sprayer is used.
“The electrostatic technology is amazing because it adds a charge to the disinfectant droplets so they adhere to hard surfaces,” says Brock’s Manager of Custodial Services Jay Ismailovic. “The disinfectant particles attach like a magnet to all surfaces and objects in the room. Within two minutes, any viruses are killed.”
The main disinfectant-cleaner used on campus is Clorox Canada 360 Total Disinfectant Cleaner, which was among the first disinfectant-cleaners approved by Health Canada as effective in killing the COVID-19 virus with two minutes of dwell time. The product is bleach-free and has proven to be effective against SARS-CoV-2.
Ismailovic says there are misconceptions that the electrostatic sprayer allows chemicals to linger in the air.
“People often confuse electrostatic technology with fogging, which uses a disinfectant mist that remains in the air for several hours,” he explains. “The beauty of electrostatic technology is that the disinfecting particles don’t float — they instantly attach to objects. The manufacturer of the electrostatic system guarantees that people can re-enter the room as soon as the spraying is complete.”
In addition to nightly cleaning and disinfecting of classrooms and lecture halls, Brock’s washrooms and high-touch surfaces in public and common spaces are cleaned and disinfected a minimum of twice per day. High-touch surfaces include light switches, door handles, elevator buttons, handrails and door push plates. Other common areas, such as hallways, athletic facilities, dining areas, libraries and offices are cleaned and disinfected daily.
Many areas on campus, such as classrooms and washrooms, have also received a ‘project cleaning’ or ‘spring cleaning’.
“We take things apart, scrape, scrub, clean and disinfect everything so that it all looks brand new again,” Ismailovic says.
Walls have been washed, light fixtures cleaned and carpeted surfaces shampooed and extracted of dirt. Floors have also been refinished in all public spaces on campus by removing old wax and applying four coats of new floor finish.
“Students, staff and faculty will return to spaces that look new and fresh,” Ismailovic says. “New floor finish throughout campus also helps with Custodial staff’s cleaning efforts.”
To help with the overall effort in preventing infection, Custodial Services has installed 260 wall-mounted and free-standing hand sanitizers throughout campus. Dispensers contain a foaming alcohol-based antimicrobial soap with 62 per cent ethyl alcohol, and are maintained, inspected, cleaned and replenished daily.
Three hundred and fifty paper towel dispensers have also been installed in all University washrooms, while hand dryers have been disconnected.
Custodial staff have received additional health and safety training specific to working in the pandemic environment and have been provided with personal protective equipment (PPE), such as medical-grade face masks, disposable gloves, eye protection and optional coveralls.
Team members work individually and practise physical distancing. Safety updates related to PPE and virus mitigation are communicated regularly and written protocols and procedures have been developed and implemented to provide a safe workplace for all custodians.