Archive for the ‘Educational Industry’ Category

Summer School for Hard Floors

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Learn how to use the summer break to your floors’ advantage

Before the real work gets started, you’ll need to plan and prepare. Dariusz Malachowski, unit director at SSC Services for Education, says proper planning and communication are the most important ingredients in a successful summer floor cleanup. “The preparation starts months before. It is a two-and-a-half-month-long project and needs to be treated as such,” he says.

Here are the steps Malachowski and other floor care experts take and recommend in the months leading to summer:

Evaluate the condition of all floor surfaces—A thorough evaluation will help you decide which type of restoration is necessary. Prioritize areas that need a full strip and recoat versus top scrub and recoat. “This allows me to determine how much product I will need to order and gives me a rough idea of the time allotment for each building or area,” Malachowski says.

Select your cleaning chemicals—Selecting cleaning products can be overwhelming, but just remember that one size does not fit all, and more is not always better, says Andrew Wolfe, a formulating chemist for coatings at Spartan Chemical Company Inc. “Choose the cleaner and finish that works best for your facility,” he says. “Do you need a rapid repair? Something that requires low maintenance? Or something that is environmentally preferred? Also take into account the correct concentration of each chemical, as over-diluting or under-diluting your floor finish remover can cause problems such as tacky, gummy residue, or simply not getting the finish off the floor.”

Order supplies—Most facility managers will need to order more or different products and tools for summer floor refinishing compared to what they use during the school year. Malachowski uses large quantities of floor finish, finishing pads, and stripping pads. Ordering supplies early ensures his distribution center has them in stock and will ship products to him on time. “The worst thing that can happen is having your crew show up for work and not having tools or supplies for them to work with,” he says.

When ordering supplies, don’t forget safety equipment. “Be sure to have chemical-resistant footwear, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and goggles, as well as ‘wet floor’ signage,” Wolfe says. “Most importantly, this is a messy process, so make sure to protect yourself with a coverall.”

Inspect and repair equipment used for summer cleanup—Some floor machines have likely been sitting in storage for months and you’ll need to ensure they are in good working condition. Having spare parts for most critical pieces of equipment so that you can make repairs when a breakdown happens in the middle of the summer is a lifesaver, Malachowski says. “You need to have a stock of squeegee blades, gaskets, and filters for your wet vacs and auto scrubbers. A spare vacuum motor can save two weeks of idle time.”

Inquire about planned summer school activities—Find out when summer schools, camps, athletic practices, construction, or IT and maintenance projects will occur, and plan your projects accordingly. It is critical to go into summer work planning with as much information as possible, Malachowski advises. “You do not want to have summer camp kids run into your school on Monday morning while you have your crew stripping floors because nobody thought of notifying you. This is a true story from my past summer cleanup,” he warns.

Make a detailed plan for daily and weekly accomplishments—This plan needs to consider all the information you have gathered about summer school activities. Share this plan with all the stakeholders. Give them a timeline to review and approve it. “You’d be surprised how often they will add things they forgot about initially,” Malachowski says.

Amy W. Richardson                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Managing Editor, Cleaning & Maintenance                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Amy W. Richardson is the managing editor of Cleaning & Maintenance Management. She has more than 15 years of experience editing and writing for trade and consumer publications, community newspapers, nonprofit associations, and websites. Richardson holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies with an emphasis in journalism from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Dirty Schools Impact Student Performance

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Written by: Ben Walker

Schools are in the cleaning business.

That statement really says it all, but before I go off on one of my favorite impassioned rants, let me say one thing. If you’re managing a K-12 cleaning operation and you’re reading this article, relax — you’re cool. Rather, this column is intended to serve as a primer for defending the very critical roll your cleaning program plays when speaking to your superintendent, principal, PTA president, school board, state legislators and anyone else who wants to tell you how to clean school buildings.

Extensive research has shown that K-12 school environments have an improved capacity toward learning when they are clean. Perhaps the most comprehensive study on this concept was performed by Dr. Michael Berry at Charles Young Elementary School in Washington D.C.

The study’s main purpose evaluated correlations between educational performance of students and the quality (i.e. cleanliness) of their physical learning environment. Among the primary conclusions of this study was that the quality of learning is greatly impacted by the overall cleanliness of the indoor environment within the school. This was further confirmed when Berry reached similar conclusions in research done at the Frank Porter Graham School in 1998 and at the University of North-Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2006.

Six years later, facility management educator and IFMA fellow, Dr. Jeff Campbell reviewed the existing practice of cleaning schools and also laid out a compelling case for maintaining a clean school environment. The 2012 study, entitled “Clean Schools Initiative,” featured an academic review of existing literature on the state of the cleaning profession in the United States, and a case study of a complete remediation of the cleaning program at Dixon Middle School in Provo, Utah.

Ultimately, Campbell identified several takeaways for operations looking to improve cleaning and the indoor environment of schools. Specifically speaking, cleaning contributes to performance by reducing anxiety and distractions; controls the appearance, making a pleasant environment; and protects human health. Furthermore, Campbell concluded that when a school is systematically cleaned and maintained daily, the overall cost of running a custodial operation can decrease by almost 50 percent.

All of this begs the question, with the abundance of peer-reviewed, scholarly evidence, practical application and even anecdotal reporting of improved health outcomes, why it is still a fight to keep cleaning departments operational? In 2008, Berry even lamented, “It is too bad so few people have paid any attention to those peer reviewed research results that clearly demonstrate that a properly designed cleaning program will produce a healthy environmental condition.”

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with a few K-12 schools — the cornerstone of my consulting business is setting up cleaning programs for colleges and university campuses. This is a subject that is very close to my heart.

The cleaning program at a school contributes holistically to the student learning environment. Much of their learning experience will be shaped by the cleanliness of the facility. Most importantly, the cleanliness of the facility can directly affect the positive or negative learning experience of every student, teacher and administrator that occupies that building.

The work you do is important. It helps people. Sometimes this gets lost in the shuffle of putting out the daily fires, the complaints and the de-prioritization of daily cleaning in favor of other events. When that happens, stop and remind yourself that what you do matters.

Ben Walker is the Director of Business Development for ManageMen, Inc., a leading cleaning industry consultancy specializing in training, transitions, auditing and educational materials. In addition to his consulting work, Walker is the author of ISSA’s best selling book: 612 Cleaning Times and Tasks.