Custodial staff taking extra precautions amid COVID-19 outbreak


Audrey Korte

A member of the Rhatigan Student Center custodial staff wipes down tables by Starbucks.

The COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping the nation, leaving in its wake many questions about personal and public health.

Wichita State announced in-person class cancellations for next week and a switch to online-only classes for at least two week after spring break as a protective measure.

Even though in-person classes are canceled, as of now, the campus will remain open. Some students are asking what WSU’s custodial staff is doing to prevent the spread of germs.

Audrey Tozier, a freshman studying industrial engineering, said the cleanliness of door handles is among her and her fellow students main concerns. 

“I think we need to focus on door handles — how many times does the door to the RSC or the Heskett Center get opened?” Tozier said. “Cleaning a door handle more than four times a day could make a really big difference.”

Director of Custodial Services and Event Support Pablo Gonzalez said he and his staff are focusing on keeping door hanfles clean.

“Our custodians have been prepared to wipe all door handles, light switches, public tables,” Gonzalez said. “That’s the direction we’re going.” 

Among other extra precautions, Gonzalez said training sessions have been held to ramp up the staff’s efforts to keep campus clean and safe.

He said the custodial staff is using a special germicidal disinfectant specifically as a response to the COVID-19 fear. 

Freshmen electrical engineering student Luke Arrasmith said he has been impressed with the cleaning staff so far. 

“When I have been in the RSC or Shocker Dining, I have noticed that almost immediately after someone is done eating, [the cleaning staff] have wiped it down,” Arrasmith said. 

But students still have their concerns.

With more people buying cleaning products in bulk, Tozier said she’s worried COVID-19 could cause dangerous shortages.

“I know that [stores] are running into shortages, so it would be interesting to see in terms of making sure they have the cleaning supplies and if we were to run out, what would be the next step in terms of figuring that out?” Tozier said. 

She said cleanliness is not just the WSU custodial staff’s responsibility.

“I think everyone has to take a little responsibility,” Tozier said. “Clean your bathrooms, clean your hands if you are going to go to the bathroom, open the door with a paper towel if you are coming home from class.”

When asked Thursday whether the university has had trouble getting enough cleaning supplies, WSU President Jay Golden said that hasn’t been a problem – yet.

“Not so far,” Golden said.