Custodians maintain COVID-19 guidelines

Custodian+Don+Vasses+cleans+the+front+door+handles.++This+is+one+of+the+many+things+he+does+each+day+to+ensure+COVID-19+guidelines+are+met.

Kimberly Brown

Custodian Don Vasses cleans the front door handles. This is one of the many things he does each day to ensure COVID-19 guidelines are met.

Door handles, table legs, light switches.  We don’t typically think of these places as virus super spreaders, but for custodians at Northwest, these are one of the first places to look out for.

But cleaning classrooms is just one aspect of a Northwest custodian’s job.  Their day at Northwest starts at 6 a.m.

“Upon arriving for our shift, we take our temperature and there is a program on the computer that we use to document our temperature as well as answer questions allowing us to work that day,” custodian Don Vasses said.

Custodians then meet for a debriefing meeting to discuss projects for the day and any changes or updates to COVID-19 guidelines.

“There are so many touchpoints without even realizing.  At the start of the day, we disinfect everything,” Vasses said.

After cleaning classrooms, hallways, and other parts of the school, including desks, walls, and computers, a process that takes about two hours, custodians have time to work on special projects around the school.

Past projects have included closing off stalls in the bathrooms, placing large red dots to help students and staff walk six feet apart, and installing hand sanitizer dispensers.

Currently, custodians are working on repainting walls in the cafeteria and washing windows and entryways.  Although time-consuming, the difference is clear and Vasses believes this will create a more inviting environment for when students come back to school.

“We follow school and Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.  We all have to wear a mask when we’re on campus and practice social distancing, staying six feet apart.  It’s going pretty well with the amount of staff on campus.”

Despite these efforts to maintain a clean environment, custodian Damienion King has his doubts about students returning to school.

“I don’t think it’s safe (for students) to come back (to school).  You don’t know if your neighbor is taking the precautions to keep themselves safe,”  King said.

King, who has three children attending Northwest, is concerned that reopening schools too soon could lead to more cases.

“I definitely think (virtual learning) is working.  I don’t think it’s safe for any kids to return.  There have been (COVID-19) cases here in Greensboro already (at elementary schools) and they’re closing schools down for cleaning.  I don’t think (returning to school) is safe for anyone.”

This is a delicate situation for Guilford County Schools.  In New York City, 169 schools have closed within the last few weeks after a recent resurgence of cases, according to Maria Caspani and Jonathan Allen of Reuters.

GCS announced that Pre K – 2 classrooms would not open on Monday, Oct. 26 as previously scheduled citing the current COVID-19 positivity rates in Guilford County.  More information can be found here.

Despite COVID-19 cases throughout the United States, Vasses remains optimistic that high school students will return to school.  He believes that students will be able to maintain social distancing and in-person instruction will be able to resume soon.

“I think everyone will (follow COVID-19 guidelines),” Vasses said. “Everyone will be happy to come back to school; it will be new and adventurous to practice staying six feet apart from each other and washing your hands often.”

In the meantime, Vasses reminds students that it is imperative they continue to attend online classes and participate in virtual school.

“Get online, do your classes,” Vasses said. “Be knowledgeable about COVID-19 before you come back.  Be knowledgeable about what the virus is and what you need to keep yourself, your friends, and your family safe.  Be knowledgeable about what is expected of you when you return and follow the guidelines.”