April 17, 2020

Caretaking staff rapidly responds to support campus community during COVID-19 crisis

Tireless teamwork employs best practices to keep campus clean and safe
Workers spray disinfectant on handrails at main campus
Workers spray disinfectant on handrails at main campus. Facilities

The University of Calgary’s cleaning services staff have enhanced their cleaning procedures to clean and disinfect surfaces across all campuses to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have an amazing caretaking team that is well equipped in working to help prevent the virus from spreading amongst our UCalgary community,” says Michael Love, director of caretaking.

UCalgary’s Caretaking Department is a leader in the cleaning industry in North America in its efforts to contribute to a safer and healthier experience for our students, faculty and staff. The team has previously achieved the International Sanitary Supply Association’s (ISSA) Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS-GB with honours), a Green Building  Certification Program.

At the initial onset of the COVID-19 crisis, Love and the caretaking leadership team began strategizing with suppliers to stock the necessary cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks, gowns, electrostatic sprayers and disinfectant. Training on the new disinfectants, PPE and equipment immediately began in early February.

“Facilities Management had started planning several years ago for an unlikely event such as this,” says Love, “and we implemented industry best-practice systems and trained accordingly.” The university is fortunate that a number of our caretaking management team came to UCalgary with significant experience from Alberta Health Services and have years of experience dealing with enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols. They have used their extensive knowledge to prepare our caretaking staff to respond to contagious outbreaks.

I am extremely proud of how our caretaking staff have stepped up to help protect our University of Calgary community. 

– Steven Gasser, associate vice-president (facilities management)

Becoming well versed in the amount of time the virus can live on hard or soft surfaces, the caretaking staff has taken different approaches to protocols in cleaning specific surfaces and spaces such as: 

  • Extensive cleaning where known case(s)/individual (s) affected with the virus may have been on campus.
  • Every night the caretaking staff carry out enhanced cleaning and disinfection of 1.8 million square feet across the university! They conduct a two-step cleaning process which includes wiping surfaces down, followed by disinfectant spraying.
  • Deploying mobile hand sanitizer stations early on in the crisis in various areas and ensuring soap dispensers are refilled in bathrooms daily.
  • Increased concentration of cleaning chemicals to ensure the prevention of people coming into contact with the new coronavirus. Space types being focused on are washrooms, boardrooms, hallways, stairwells, and elevators.
  • Reduced office, classroom, and floor cleaning activities in order to redeploy resources to increase the cleaning frequency of high-touch points across campus, such as but not limited to elevators, door handles, push bars and plates, food courts’ microwaves, tables, railings in stairwells, study carrels, switch plates, and vending machines. High-touch point cleaning is completed multiple times per day through Monday to Friday across all campuses.
  • Disinfection of key high-traffic areas including select classrooms and conference rooms, as a secondary measure to mitigate cross contamination and exposure.

Caretaking staff are operating 15 electrostatic sprayers and 10 sanitizing machines across campuses for consistent cleaning coverage and a greater disinfection and sanitization of surfaces – an effort that helps keep our university campuses cleaner and safer. Thank you to the cleaning staff for their tireless teamwork and effort and working to the highest cleaning standard to help protect our campus community.

ReminderBuildings on main campus were transitioned to electronic or key access only, beginning Thursday, April 2, 2020. Only those who need to be on campus should be on campus. Read more