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University has revamped cleaning for COVID safety

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Maria Zavala of Sodexo housekeeping services cleans the tables outside the University Bookstore on Thursday. This disinfecting work is done regularly in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus throughout campus. / photo by Darcelle Jones-Wesley

Maria Zavala of Sodexo housekeeping services cleans the tables outside the University Bookstore on Thursday. This disinfecting work is done regularly in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus throughout campus. / photo by Darcelle Jones-Wesley

Abelina Nuñez
Social Media Editor

The University of La Verne has a special COVID cleaning crew to go around campus and disinfect touch services, especially if there is a positive case in that building.

The campus has day and night shifts to ensure custodial services regularly disinfect common areas like bathrooms, lounges, and touch surfaces. The COVID campus crew has 38 employees.

Any physical space or object with a positive case interacted with will be cleaned and sanitized by trained staff with the recommended protocol for the area or item.

“The COVID compliance officer notifies us what rooms a positive case has been located and upon their interview process and doing their contact tracing, they learn where that person was during those days,” said Jason Miller, associate vice president of facilities for the University.

Alison Vicroy, assistant general counsel for the University, is also the COVD compliance officer.

Miller then emails Lydia Fonseca, general manager for Sodexo Custodial Services for ULV,  and she sends out her team immediately to clean those spaces and sanitize them.

“I wish we could do it sooner,” Miller said. “But unfortunately, we don’t learn about these things until after the cases are known and a lot of people are coming to campus with symptoms.”

Fonseca said she prepares the service teams for a COVID-19 exposure “high-touch point disinfecting”. They use peroxide multi-surface cleaner and disinfectant, which is the Environment Protection Agency-registered.

“If it’s a living space like a dorm room, we usually wait 72 hours,” she said. “And we ask them to open the windows to let the room air out before we send anybody in there because the health and safety of our workers are also important. But if we’re dealing with a public space like an elevator or a dormitory kitchenette space, we send someone immediately to do the electrostatic spray there; we don’t wait.”

Electrostatic spray is a spray that shoots out small electrical charges to aerosols when passing through the nozzle, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fonseca said when using the electrostatic sprayer, they will send out a team member who is trained and received proper mask fitting certification to the classroom to conduct a thorough fogging of the area.

Veronica Pineda, day shift cleaning supervisor, has most of her team working from 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and the last time a daytime shift person leaves La Verne is 4:30 p.m.

Mayra Ocasio, night shift cleaning supervisor, has her team working from 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

The supervisors check their emails before entering their office to notify their teams where the positive case is located so once they arrive, they can work immediately in the room.

“I know that they are going to take extra time than the normal because we’re going to make sure that every inch is hitting with the electrostatic sprayer,” Pineda said.

Pineda said the crews would lightly mist all over and walk out into the next class, do the same thing, and return to start wiping down anything that was sprayed.

“We just always make sure to wear our gloves, we have to have a hazmat suit, always protecting our faces, nose with a mask, and I do provide goggles for them as well,” Ocasio said.

The supervisors are doing their best to keep their crew safe while disinfecting positive case rooms.

“We never had a case that was caused because someone was exposed at work, so that means to us that we’re taking proper procedures to not get infected as well,” Ocasio said.

Ocasio hopes this is over soon because there has been a lot on their staff since they have to disinfect the whole campus throughout the day.

“Anybody coming to campus, please do a self-assessment in the morning and make sure you recognize any possible symptoms regardless if it’s COVID or not,” Miller said. “If you have any symptoms, please stay home. We have all kinds of programs set up to work remotely and have classes that are taught online. There are all kinds of resources available to students, staff, and faculty to make sure that we can stop any type of possible transmission on campus.”

Abelina Nuñez can be reached at abelina.nunez@laverne.edu.

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