Acknowledging School Custodians


Photo: Courtesy of LA Johnson/NPR

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, custodians and sanitation workers have played a role in combating the novel COVID-19 virus. As of now, custodians continue to play a significant role in keeping public facilities open, and this especially accounts for public schools. 

Spring Valley currently has seven custodians, which include a building engineer, building manager, and a lead custodian, all of whom have varying responsibilities. 

Due to COVID, CCSD has implemented custodians with new cleaning procedures and machines, additional procedures to their cleaning routines, and has increased disinfecting procedures that enhance precautions.

CCSD overall has a department that trains custodians with protocols, procedures and appoints certain areas that need to be cleaned daily. 

Erin O’Leary is the 10th-grade Assistant Principal and in charge of facilities, fundraising and activities, and has been working at Spring Valley since December of last year. O’Leary shared that Spring Valley has and continues to face a shortage of custodians. 

“We’ve hired some new people and we’re in the works of hiring more new people,” O’Leary said. “Custodians are sometimes a difficult job to hire for, but we’re almost fully staffed.” 

Although students do not see custodians regularly throughout the school day, acknowledging them is a way to remind themselves of their hard work.  A poll was conducted on the Grizzly Growler Instagram in which 88% of respondents voted that they did not know the names of Spring Valley’s custodians. 

Judith Jimenez was working as a custodian at Spring Valley for two years and a half. She shared that she felt good working at the school, and felt safe due to being vaccinated.  

Her routine consisted of cleaning the cafeteria before lunch, cleaning the quad, and disinfecting the 300 hallways, and cleaning additionally, whatever the teachers needed during the day.  

Jimenez shared that the difficulties of working this school year was that there was an increased amount of work to be done, within the same time as previously, and at times with less staff. 

Students also play a major role in keeping the school clean. Jimenez shared that students should be aware that custodians are working extra so that everyone feels safe, and expect their classes to be clean every day. 

“To keep the school clean is to put their trash in the right place. It is incorrect to leave trash on the floor or in the quad, just because they do not care about the work of others.” Jimenez said. “Sometimes they are sitting next to the trash can and still put their garbage in the planters or on the floor and remember you are at school 8 hours a day, would you like to study in a clean place or in one filled with garbage?”

Jimenez says that she is a person dedicated to their work and that it is saddening to see young people who do not respect the work of others.

Custodians, teachers, students and faculty stress that they have a  responsibility of maintaining the school clean and safe. 

 O’Leary shared that protocols that the school did not have previous to the pandemic were each classroom having a bucket of disinfecting wipes. 

Felicia Bonanno who is a teacher in the science department and adviser for the Environmental Club shares that having every student participating in keeping the school clean is critical. 

“Students can even remind teachers ‘Hey, when’s the last time we cleaned desks? I’d be willing to help,’ students can volunteer to help their teachers, you know, keep the school clean,” Bonnano said. 

Spring Valley as a whole has taken initiatives to promote a clean school, and overall help to highlight the work that custodians do, through campus clean-ups. The latest campus clean-up was “Call to Earth Day,” which brought together various clubs to clean up different areas of the school. 

“Janitors can only do so much and there’s not that many of them, they work long hours so we should help them out and do our part in order to stay in school and keep it clean,” senior Jadelyn Fines said.