School won’t be in session for another month or so, but facility managers must use this time to get their facilities back in tip-top shape for the return of students this fall. Most schools returned to in-person learning this past school year, and the 2022-23 session will likely follow suit. As such, every classroom, gymnasium, athletic field, quad, cafeteria, library, hallway, office, and common space requires your full attention. Neglecting any of these spaces can result in poor health and safety outcomes, reputational damage, significant costs, and other liabilities. With that in mind, here are our top tips for preparing your entire school for the upcoming year.
Top Tips for Preparing Your School for the Upcoming Year
Assemble Your Team
The workforce is constantly in flux, but the past few years have seen massive shifts in labor participation rates. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major factor in this economic shake-up, but generational and technological trends play their parts, too. In our previous blog, “Small Schools Must Prepare to Maintain Facilities as Custodians and Facility Managers Retire,” we discuss how many long-standing facility managers and janitorial workers in the educational sector are aging out of the workforce or simply leaving – this leaves openings for new talent, but filling these roles is sometimes easier said than done. As a new school year quickly approaches, then, you might find yourself lacking in labor resources to tackle everything on your facility’s agenda. If this is the case, it’s crucial to focus on hiring, outsourcing, and promoting people for both seasonal and full-time positions so you can cover all your bases over the summer break. And even after you’ve thoroughly prepped your school for the new year, you’ll need to keep reliable custodians on staff throughout the year to maintain every facility and room.
Level Up Your Landscaping
Most schools remain active during the off-season for summer classes, sporting events, clubs, faculty meetings, and more. But even if your school is essentially a ghost town between the months of June/July and August/September, you can’t just let your landscape run wild right up to the point of everyone’s return. A school’s landscape requires ongoing attention to remain beautiful, controlled, and healthy year-round. As such, your institution will need to keep landscaping services on payroll over the summer. Not only should your landscapers simply maintain your green spaces, however – you should also have them make necessary improvements and additions to create a welcoming environment for the new school year this fall. You might invest in a special flower arrangement that spells out a welcoming message to new and returning students, install seasonal color in window boxes to beautify exterior buildings, or artistically prune shrubs for picture-perfect symmetry along walkways. Whatever the case, updating and maintaining your school’s landscape can have a major impact on student enrollment, retention, and success.
Refresh Exterior Buildings
While we’re on the topic of exterior elements, your campus’ buildings will also benefit from a facelift prior to the new school year. Keeping up with exterior building cleaning is crucial for impressing prospective students and welcoming incoming students and staff – doing so can also improve health outcomes. Though pollen tends to rear its head most aggressively in late spring and early summer, pollen season can run right through early fall. Much of this allergy-inducing material winds up on building exteriors. If you don’t thoroughly clean your school’s exterior surfaces during or shortly after pollen season, it will affect many students, faculty, and staff members. Most commercial cleaning experts recommend power washing buildings at least twice a year (about six months apart). In this way, summer presents the perfect opportunity to refresh your school’s outward appearance for the upcoming year while also clearing its outer surfaces from harmful debris and contaminants such as pollen, dust, and mold.
Conduct a Thorough Interior Cleaning
Your school’s insides need cleaning, too, of course. Ideally, your custodial staff will have kept up with regular interior cleaning throughout the previous school year. That said, even if most of your school’s rooms appear to be clean, more can and should be done to get them in pristine shape for the new school year. For starters, high dusting will tackle any dust that’s been lingering in and atop hard-to-reach spaces and hindering indoor air quality (IAQ). Deep cleaning and disinfecting all rooms prior to the new year will restore appearances and, more importantly, improve health and safety outcomes for returning students and faculty. Applying a long-lasting antimicrobial barrier spray to classrooms, gyms, locker rooms, bathrooms, and other interior spaces will significantly reduce the risk of disease transmission for several months between applications. This is also the best time to restore floors via deep cleaning methods such as shampooing, steaming, vacuuming, burnishing, buffing, resurfacing, etc. – your gym floors could probably use a fresh application of commercial floor wax, too).
Inspect and Repair Assets
The summer break is also the optimal time to inspect, test, repair, and/or replace key assets inside and outside your school, such as power generators, breakers, outlets, HVAC systems, lockers, doors, windows, floors – the list goes on. Chances are you’ll need to bring in building maintenance services throughout the year to tackle little things here and there, but you don’t want to undergo major renovations during the school year, as this can disrupt classes and events while hindering productivity and learning outcomes. Try to save the big projects and loud noises for the summer when fewer people are around.
Prepare the Air Inside Your School Buildings
One of the biggest takeaways of this ongoing pandemic has been the importance of indoor air quality (IAQ) in preventing and reducing the transmission of airborne diseases. Regardless of your school’s specific COVID policies, improving IAQ in your facilities promotes better health outcomes all around – you can do this by installing IAQ monitoring devices, cleaning and replacing HVAC components, and investing in new air purification technology for classrooms like AirBox devices. At The Budd Group, we offer our clients our BreatheWell Air Quality Program to improve IAQ while also cutting energy costs, which you can learn more about here.
Prepare Your School for the New Year
Getting your school ready for the upcoming school year is a multi-faceted effort, involving the maintenance and enhancement of every facility under your purview, inside and out. If you’re concerned about staffing shortages or you simply don’t know where to begin, The Budd Group’s comprehensive services and years of experience can help. To learn more about our services and values, give us a call today at 800-221-8158!