It is the start of the school year at the University, and despite the concern of COVID-19,Facilities and Service(F&S), continue to protect the well-being of students and faculty on campus. The F&S provides “all physical plant, operational, and essential services for sustaining an environment,” according to their website.
Steven Breitwiser, the manager of communications & external relations, said since March, the operations service strived to provide a safe, learning space for students while also adhering to COVID guidelines.
“F&S operations have remained focused on supporting the various aspects of the return to on-site instruction this semester while addressing feedback or requests from campus units and the COVID-19 Executive Steering Committee,” Breitwiser said. “Some of the notable COVID-19 efforts include work performed in custodial, building maintenance, utilities, safety and engineering areas.”
Since the University announced its shutdown in mid March, Breitwiser said via email, that the F&S staff have implemented the following:
- implemented the recommendations and best practices for the cleaning and disinfecting of public spaces and schools provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Champaign Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD)
- deployed hand sanitizing stations and disinfecting wipe containers across campus; assisted with the setup of COVID-19 testing sites
- designed and installed COVID-19 notice signs located at building entrances, restrooms, stairwells, and elevators
- created a F&S Health and Safety Response Team to answer questions from colleges, departments, and units and deliver additional support.
Breiwiser said the efforts to mitigate COVID would not be possible without the assistance of the Wellness Support Associates, WSA. F&S utilize WSA at entrances of campus buildings and participate in the check-in process for building access along with students, faculty, and staff across campus.
Brian Brauer, the head of the WSA program said despite a few reservations, giving students the opportunity to work as WSA has helped mitigate COVID-19 and even bring awareness to the campus community businesses.
“The biggest concern was getting buy-in from the students-We’re in our third week and the supermajority of students have been on-board and appreciative of this aspect of keeping them safe,” Brauer said. “My second reservation was that all of our efforts on campus could be for naught if we didn’t have community buy-in, so I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that local bars and restaurants were using the app, too.”
Although he does not know when the virus will end, he believes that mitigating the spread of COVID is a collaborative effort Brauer said.
“Our employees have largely had the same attitude as our students- this is one of several procedures and activities that give us all a greater margin of safety as we figure out how to learn through the pandemic.”
Breiwiser encouraged students to wear face coverings, wash hands frequently, maintain social distancing and quarantine for the remainder of the school year.