From the beginning of the pandemic, the College has considered public health guidance in developing protocols to help protect the health and safety of our community, including guidance relating to cleaning and sanitizing our buildings. In the 2020-2021 academic year, the College expanded custodial services by hiring many of our dining staff who would not otherwise have had work due to a reduced number of students on campus. We adopted a twice-a-day cleaning regimen in the residential halls, and wiped down each chair and desk in the classrooms every night.
In April 2021, an update from further research by the CDC showed that the risk of transmission from contact with surfaces was significantly less than previously thought. This academic year the College has adjusted its cleaning protocols in line with current CDC guidance, which allows us to return to our normal staffing levels.
Due to retirement and medical leaves, there are a few vacancies on our custodial team that we are actively recruiting to fill. It is often the case that custodial positions are filled by other current members of the union (either a custodian moving into a senior position or choosing a preferred work schedule, or a union member moving from a position in dining to a position in custodial services), giving rise to another vacant position within the union. We strictly comply with the job posting and seniority provisions of the contract when recruiting to fill positions.
Even when there are vacancies, our cleaning standards are never compromised. Our custodial team members are assigned to individual buildings and we also have additional team members designated as “floaters” to help support as needed. When the custodian assigned to a particular building is not available, then the floater custodian steps in to clean that building. If necessary, we stop certain preventive cleaning projects so that the regular day-to-day cleaning is consistently maintained.
Contrary to the statement made by the Independent Maintenance and Service Employees Union of America, we have not reduced the number of custodial positions below pre-pandemic levels. In fact, the College took extraordinary steps to ensure that none of our union colleagues were laid off last year, despite there being many fewer students, faculty, and staff on campus.