Cleaning crew disinfects the college

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Building disinfection process

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Housekeeper Teresa Bonilla mops the floor with disinfectant chemicals before students arrive Nov. 26 at the nursing complex. The McLemore Company cleaning crew begins at 5 a.m. and returns to occupied buildings every hour to disinfect surfaces. Empty buildings are cleaned weekly. Vanessa Montano Rodriguez

By Vanessa Montano Rodriguez

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

In these times, cleaning and disinfection are important priorities for everyone.

In addition to being concerned about contracting Covid-19 from other students or employees, students worry about the cleanliness of the campus.

Cleaning has increased since the pandemic began, and the disinfection process needs to be done more often to prevent students from getting infected, housekeeper Teresa Bonilla said.

Disinfection is a chemical process which eliminates or reduces viruses and bacteria.

When cleaning staff enters the building, they are required to have their temperature checked, making sure they don’t have any symptoms of Covid-19.

After passing the test, they are given a bracelet indicating that they have permission to be inside the building.

The cleaning crew from the McLemore Company begins cleaning at 5 a.m.

“Cleaning equipment includes gloves, goggles, masks and biodx, which is the chemical used to disinfect the entire building,” Bonilla said.

After the first cleaning, workers return every hour to re-disinfect all the surfaces users touch.

Ken Almquist, McLemore’s San Antonio director of operations, said, “With only eight buildings of the 32 that were normally cleaned before they become empty, 100% more chemicals are used at this time.”

Occupied buildings — nursing complex, Moody Learning Center, Victory Center, facilities building, Sinkin Eco Centro, Chance Academic Center, portables, visual arts and technology center — are cleaned daily each hour.

Buildings that are empty are cleaned and disinfected once a week.

The McLemore Company cleans all five Alamo Colleges.

“When classrooms are back to back, we need at least 30 minutes to disinfect in-between the classes,” Almquist said.

“Once the biodx is applied to surfaces, it is allowed to sit for 10 minutes before it is wiped off,” Almquist said, adding all cleaning carts carry a timer.

“For all the different classrooms and restrooms that are being cleaned, we use different microfiber towels. After using them once, it goes into the laundry bag and is not reused,” Almquist said.

The employees have red and green towels. The red towel is only to disinfect the toilet, and the green one is used for other surfaces.

To distinguish which classrooms have been disinfected from those not disinfected, a sticker is put on the door.

When someone opens the door, the sticker will break and when the cleaning crew employees go through the hallways, they know to enter to disinfect.

“The purpose of the sticker on the door is to notify teachers and students that the room has been disinfected and is ready for use,” Almquist said.

A log hangs on the restroom door for employees to note when they disinfected.

“We have 10 machines called Clorox 360 Electrostatic Sprayer that are used in the event that we have someone who has tested positive or started feeling symptoms. So this machine applies a chemical sanitizer and is sprayed all over the building,” Almquist said.

To disinfect in the case of a student who has tested positive, employees must follow procedures and wear gloves, goggles, mask, face shield, boots and gown.

Every two weeks, cleaning crews receive updated instructions as they are issued. The procedure, chemicals and policy were developed by Almquist and the emergency management response team.

“Normally in a regular semester, we have around 54 employees, but when the whole pandemic started, we transferred people from other colleges to cover the largest campus. We have approximately 40 people at this campus,” Almquist said.

“The changes are notable since Covid-19 started,” Bonilla said. “Of course, we cleaned it, but not every hour as at the moment.”

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