By George Ledbetter CSC College Relations
CHADRON – Even before Chadron State College president Randy Rhine announced March 17 that the CSC campus would be closed to the public and all courses would shift to remote delivery in response to the rapid spread of the highly infectious coronavirus and the dangerous Covid-19 disease it causes, college custodial staff were taking steps to keep students, faculty, and staff safe, according to Robbie Diehl, maintenance manager for Chadron State.
“We were already taking the steps needed to protect campus before the shut down,” Diehl said in an email Friday. “We are taking extra steps for this situation. Cleaning has ramped up, cleaning of certain areas has changed to provide more coverage, as well as the use of new chemicals that will insure the virus is killed and not transmitted.”
CSC’s response to the pandemic that had by March 30 caused more than 38,556 deaths worldwide and led to lock down orders in many countries and some U.S. cities and states began with the March 13 announcement that spring break would be extended one week to allow development of alternative instruction plans for the remainder of the semester.
By the time Rhine issued the notice of campus closure, the Nebraska State College System had announced that partial refunds would be available to dormitory residents who chose to move out of residence halls because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But some CSC students have chosen to remain on campus and many faculty and staff are still working in their offices, so the job of cleaning college buildings is an ongoing responsibility for the 28-member custodial staff, said Diehl.
“My team fights things like this on a daily basis to keep our campus clean and free from viruses from the common flu to unforeseen outbreaks such as this,” said Diehl. “The position of a custodian is sometimes overlooked or not respected, but it’s time like these that the work they do is critical.”
Chadron State has plans in place for emergency situations such as this viral outbreak, and is following those plans, according to Diehl. For custodial staff, that has meant cleaning takes longer and is done more frequently than usual, in some cases multiple times per day, he said.
Custodial staff are also wearing protective gear and following procedures to keep themselves safe while working, added Diehl.
Despite the extra effort required to meet the pandemic threat, there are no plans to hire additional custodial staff, Diehl said. The virus outbreak has caused higher stress levels for custodians, he said, but so far they are handling it well.
“I am very blessed with an outstanding team of cleaners. It is my hope that during this time, and even after, people will respect the work that the custodians do every day to insure the safety of this campus,” said Diehl. “They are our troops on the ground fighting viruses every day.”