'It’s a lot more to do': Culver Schools maintenance staff up workload for student safety

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CULVER, Ind. - It takes a lot to reopen schools and bring kids back to a safe environment. That’s why this week on The Learning Curve we are going behind the scenes at Culver Community Schools to look at what life is like now for the support staff.

Everyone from maintenance to counseling to even food services. But Tuesday our team is giving you an inside look at how the school’s maintenance staff are helping make sure kids are safe inside the buildings.

“Spray all the lockers and after they’re sprayed they have to be wiped down. It makes it quicker but it’s still time-consuming because that is something we never did in the past," Mike Garland, the Building Maintenance Director for Culver Schools said.

Because of the pandemic, Garland's workday has drastically changed.

"Biggest thing in the morning time, we go through and do a lot of the doors wiping doors like this all gets wiped down. Anything that the kids can touch is what we go and do. Rails on stairways," he said. “We go through and do more common areas more, more wiping stuff now more fog and new tools to use so that's what we do on a daily basis.”

Garland showed ABC57 what it takes to keep two school buildings sanitized and clean.

"Normally at night time we will go spray the walls, lockers and during the day she’ll go through here with a spray gun do all the bathrooms," he said.

Some of the new tools include a sanitizer spray.

"It’s a mist spray so it scatters throughout the whole restroom. It works very well," he said. "Then at night they’ll spray and wipe down. But during the day to make things flow she goes around and sprays - makes everything easier.”

At the high school, once the kids leave the class, they’ll wipe the desks down. That way they’re ready for the next class.

Garland also makeshift plastic screens for the office and some teachers.

"In the office we have the plastic up inside there because they see a lot of parents that come in," he said.

The plastic is made out of shower curtains.

"Whatever we can do we made happen. Shower curtains and all," he said.

The drinking fountains are also bagged off so students don’t use those.

"She’s constantly doing all day every day wiping things down, checking restrooms, sanitizers and making sure it’s good for the kids," he said. "Everyday. All day long. It’s a lot more to do versus the other way.”

Garland and his support staff have changed the way they do things on a day to day basis. Last year was much different

“It was just basic restroom common areas covered in that in that aspect hallways, lockers, your trash your daily routine, but we have we picked it up a little bit because you have to do the doorknobs, pencil sharpeners, chairs desk. So everything has to be wiped off," he said. “Right now it's just making sure everything gets done, that you do, things that are being touched, you have to make sure you do that several times during the day where before it might have been one time. Now you have to do it several times to make sure everything's clean.”

And when it comes to supplies, they are prepared.

"We have stocked up in the back on some stuff. Our sweepers.”

Buying extra cleaning supplies is no small feat.

"More gloves, towels, rags because we’re using twice as many and hand sanitizer," he said. "On a monthly charge. Just guestimating. Probably 250 to 500 dollars a month just in hand sanitizer, wipes. It adds up pretty quick.”

Garland said that he's not too worried about being potentially at risk for the coronavirus, especially with all of the extra cleaning procedures.

"More so the kids versus my own. I take care of myself also. It’s more to keep the kids in school. Make them happy. I’ve been trained on everything so that’s lucky.” 

He also has a teen that attends the Culver Highschool.

“I have a freshman here at school," he said.

Not only watching out for the whole student body but his own.

"Not just for my daughter, but I've been through it with her and I want to make everybody happy. I want to be able to go to school with that positive attitude," he said. “She knows she's seen me do it. And she's actually she's not bashful, she'll jump in and help too. So, and that makes it nice and other kids see what's going on and they've been, I mean, trash, they make sure stuffs picked up in hallways and stuff like that. So everybody's jumping in and helping out.”

Culver is a smaller town and Garland said that's exactly why he feels sure the students, his family, and him will be safe throughout this all.

“I think the kids really wanted to be here. And you can see it when they walk down the hall," he said. "It's a little bit more work. But once you get a routine down it goes pretty good. And we have so far a lot of positive attitude. So that makes a big difference. So everybody working together.”

Although schools around the nation are being forced to either open online or spend hundreds on cleaning supplies, Culver is choosing the latter so it's students get the chance to go back to school safely.

If you have a school-related question, concern, or story idea our learning curve team wants to know about it. Please send an email to learningcurve@abc57.com

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