In response to the threat of COVID-19, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is realigning custodial staff to emphasize cleaning in high traffic areas and sanitizing key touch points, including door knobs and light switches.
“We are also making certain that soap and paper towel dispensers are filled and trash receptacles are not overflowing,” said Jim Jackson, associate vice chancellor for university operations. “We do not want to run out of supplies in restrooms for hand-washing.”
All university cleaning procedures align with COVID-19 protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To limit their exposure, the university’s team of 180 custodians is using personal protective equipment — including rubber gloves and eye protection — and following environmental health and safety training.
“Custodial staff are continually trained on how to deal with pathogens,” Jackson said. “It’s a standard practice in serving all restrooms.”
“Each member of our staff is trained on how to deal with blood-borne pathogens,” Jackson said. “It’s a standard practice we follow in restrooms at all times of the year.”
The university has also increased efforts to ensure supplies of soap, paper towels and other cleaning items are consistently available.
While focused cleaning can be a key component of an overall defense against COVID-19, Dr. Heather Eberspacher, director of the University Health Center for Nebraska Medicine, said individuals can take effective action against the virus.
“Even with these (cleaning) measures, please help us keep you and your family safe during this time,” Eberspacher said. “Be responsible in your personal hygiene. Please wash your hands before and after you eat, carry your own hand sanitizer with you to use regularly after touching highly-used surfaces, and be considerate of others that will be following behind you by wiping down tables, switches, keyboards, etc. that you use.”
Within campus offices, custodial staff are not responsible for cleaning desks, horizontal surfaces or computer components. Faculty and staff should follow CDC guidelines for cleaning those surfaces. Employees are also responsible for supplying tissues and hand sanitizer for personal use.
If students, faculty and staff encounter a shortage of paper towels or soap within a campus restroom, call the Facilities Operations and Maintenance service desk at 402-472-1550.
Personal preventative measures suggested by the CDC include washing hands often with soap and water; using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; avoiding the touching of eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with individuals who are sick; staying home if you are sick; covering a cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash; and cleaning/disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
At this time, there are no known cases of COVID-19 in Lincoln or Lancaster County. Based on consultation with medical officials, and consistent with guidance from the CDC, any actions that the university takes will be enacted from the perspective of helping to protect campus and the greater Lincoln community.
Due to the rapidly changing nature of the situation, university leaders and the COVID-19 Task Force are continuously evaluating details related to the virus. Updates are being provided primarily through the COVID-19 website, which is a one-stop resource for university-related news regarding the virus. For additional information, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.