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School’s Out! Essential Campus Projects to Tackle During Summer Break

Jun 26, 2023 | Public | 0 comments

Now that the academic semester is over and campuses are largely deserted, it’s the perfect time to do major maintenance projects and intensive cleaning jobs that couldn’t be done when the campus was buzzing with activity.

Plan for Summer Classes

Facilities teams should work with school leadership to determine what areas will be used for summer classes or have abbreviated hours during the summer break, as well as ensure any work or cleaning will have little to no impact on the faculty and students who’ll be on campus during the summer.

For safety’s sake, put up caution tape in areas undergoing major maintenance and cleaning, and install signage to inform occupants of alternate ways to get to their destination or other classrooms, conference rooms, restrooms, and dining areas that will be open.

Facilities managers should also consider doing extremely disruptive work during weekends and periods when there are no classes on campus at all.

Deep Cleaning

Because the campus is mostly empty, facilities managers should do a deep cleaning on a variety of surfaces. While the federal government declared the COVID national emergency to be over this past May, there should still be an emphasis on keeping educational facilities clean to prevent the spread of all communicable diseases. When possible and when safe to do so, open windows to allow airflow before, during, and after cleaning.

Some areas that should be deep-cleaned include:

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems

Clean all air ducts and filters, and keep in mind U.S. Department of Education strategies. These include making sure exhaust fans work in restrooms and kitchens, ensuring HVAC filters have a Minimum-Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of at least 13, and upgrading HVAC systems with current industry standards and best practices. Educational facilities should also meet U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, which were recently updated to recommend five air exchanges per hour.

Restrooms

While restrooms should be cleaned daily, a deep clean should be done now that most won’t be in use. When doing extensive cleaning, use signage to inform summer users where the nearest open facilities are, and stagger restroom cleanings so users don’t have to go to another floor. Be sure to thoroughly clean toilets, urinals, mirrors, sinks, walls, stall doors, and all restroom floors should be scrubbed and all surfaces sanitized. To maintain cleanliness in restrooms, consider installing touch-free options.

Floors

Summer is the perfect time to clean floors. Tile floors should be cleaned by stripping the old wax and debris and putting down a new layer of wax. Gymnasiums, typically constructed with vinyl composition tile (VCT), should be treated the same as tile floors, and consider sanding, remarking, and resealing wooden floors every 10 years. Carpets can be cleaned using hot water extraction by spraying water and detergent. For more information, visit the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) website.

Food Service and Dining Areas

Be sure to disinfect all areas where food can be purchased, cooked, and/or consumed, such as cafeterias, food courts, lounges, and common areas, as well as areas where food is normally stored, like refrigerators and freezers. Degrease all surfaces, and do a comprehensive cleaning of eating areas, with a focus on crevices in tables and benches. While cleaning food areas is important year-round to prevent food poisoning, it’s especially important in the summer months, when pests are drawn to food particles.

Classrooms, Conference Rooms, and Offices

Do a deep cleaning of all classrooms, conference rooms, and offices. Based on the surface being cleaned, consider disinfecting and sanitizing. To learn more, check out “Back to Basics: Cleaning, Disinfecting, or Sanitizing? What’s Right for Your Facility?” Specifically, facilities professionals should ensure that doors, door handles, windows, windowsills, desks, chairs, and supplies are all thoroughly cleaned. Vacuum carpet floors, and mop hard floors. Trash bins should be bleached, and all light switches and plug sockets should be cleaned.

Grounds Maintenance

Certain maintenance tasks are not only difficult to do when the campus is busy but could jeopardize the safety of those on the campus. Some of these tasks are very weather dependent such as repairing a parking lot or redoing a sidewalk, so be sure to check the forecast beforehand. For safety’s sake, be sure to block off any outdoor areas undergoing maintenance.

Some areas you should consider performing maintenance on include:

Lighting

Ensure both interior and exterior building lights work, and replace burned-out lightbulbs. Do a lighting audit for your facility, and replace old lighting with high-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) technology, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy. According to the University of New Haven, converting to LED can result in as much as a 70% reduction in energy use, bulbs last up to 25 times longer, and there can be incentives from the utility company by integrating energy-savings solutions. Also consider long-term cost and energy savings for lighting upgrades.

Recreational Areas

K–12 schools with playgrounds and universities with daycare facilities should use the summertime to perform a comprehensive check to ensure equipment is being properly maintained and that rusted or broken pieces are repaired. As for recreational fields, facilities managers should consider the use and maintenance of fertilizers/herbicides, sprinkler systems, and drainage. Also, consider scheduling “rest” time for new grass to grow on fields. Ensure courtyards and outdoor learning equipment are also being maintained. To learn more, read “Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities.”

Fences

Most schools have fencing that provides necessary facility security to school grounds. While summertime is the best time to do a comprehensive check on all fences to check for cracks and rust, this thorough inspection should be done twice a year. Consider washing and rinsing off school fencing, and any damaged areas should be fixed not just for aesthetic reasons but also for security reasons. However, consider replacing fencing when major damage occurs. Additionally, consider increasing or raising fencing for security purposes to prevent intruders from entering campuses.

Sidewalks

Do a thorough inspection of all sidewalks, steps, and ramps on your property, and check for cracks and uneven areas, as well as potholes. Consider filling in small cracks less than ¼ inch (in.) with a flexible sealant, but if there’s a wider crack, think about just replacing the section. Replace sections of the sidewalk that have shifted in surface height by ½ in. or more because of extreme temperatures and ground movement. Learn more by checking out “A Guide for Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities for Enhanced Safety.”

Parking Lots and Signage

Check for faded, broken, and out-of-date signs, and replace them with new ones that meet local, state, and federal regulations, including Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) handicapped-accessible spaces. Check the pavement for potholes, and fill them in. Consider repaving the entire lot for major issues or crack-sealing minor pavement issues. Ensure painted markings like crosswalks, parking space lines, directional arrows, no-parking areas, and stop bars can be clearly seen, and repaint when necessary.

Be Prepared

There’s plenty of work for facilities professionals to stay busy during the summer at all types of educational facilities. By performing deep cleaning and ground maintenance tasks, you’ll be prepared for faculty and students to return in the fall.

The post School’s Out! Essential Campus Projects to Tackle During Summer Break appeared first on Facilities Management Advisor.

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