Sterilizing for the Summer

Custodians put in hours of work during summer vacation


photo by Sydney Looney

Head custodian, Rafael Diaz cleaning up after lunch

Kaitlyn Willard, Staff Writer

Each summer, while all students are enjoying their vacation, custodians remain at the building in preparation for the upcoming school year. From cleaning tables and fixing light fixtures, to scrubbing, stripping and waxing the floors, custodians have to complete their cleansing duties before mid-August when the Back to School process is in full swing.

Starting the last day of school, the 15 custodians on a 12-month contract work a 40 hour week with occasional overtime depending on the needed tasks. From there, they make their way through the empty structure starting with classrooms and hallways with an end goal of waxing the floors in time for registration.

Head custodian Rafael Diaz has been an active member of the school’s staff for many years and has summer cleaning down to a science.

“Normally, I always start in the new edition, first floor,” Diaz said. “That’s where we have everything. And from there we have a group in the morning and there’s a group at night.”

For the carpeted rooms, once custodians have removed all furniture, all the dirt and trash gets sucked up by the vacuum. Chairs and tables are sanitized and gum is removed from underneath the appliances. From there, deep-cleaning is in full session.

Cleaning the rooms with tile floors rather than carpeted floors offer a substantial amount of work. Diaz mentioned first, chairs and tables undergo sanitation and after, the are removed from the room. Walls, light fixtures and everything else around the room also undergo sterilization. The hardy work is within the tile.

Depending on whether the tile needs to be scrubbed or scraped determines the amount of wax coats needed. Scrubbing calls for five coats and scraping requires seven. This can be a strenuous process which the the gym also receives.

“Sometimes as we get closer to the school year [the custodians] have to work overtime,” principal Greg Tiemann said. “While we don’t have anybody in the building they want to get the floors completely waxed so they will work on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays to get those done.”

This year, custodians were able to work with no complications opposed to years prior. Flooding occurred during summer of 2017 causing custodians to work overtime to ensure students go back to school on the date scheduled.

Occasionally, Millard West hosts summer school which causes custodians to work around students to cause little distraction to classrooms. However, this was not the case over this summer due to the building being closed for reconstruction of the fire alarm system. Thus, custodians were able to work thoroughly through the school avoiding complications

Through the tough work and having to be flexible, each year the custodians manage to finish on time. Diaz enjoys what he does, despite the many tasks during not only the summer but the school year as well.

“I’ve been here for 17 years,” Diaz said. “I just love working here, and I hope I will retire from here.”

Without the custodians putting in the work while students and staff are on vacation, the school would not be safe and sanitary for all. Although their work seems to be undercover, it does not go unnoticed.

“Every year it’s always my honor to recognize them in front of the faculty,” Tieman said. “They get a standing ovation. They are so appreciated for what they do; they’re good people.”

School would not be a sterile environment to come back to if it weren’t for custodians working to clean the building all throughout the summer. Thank you to the custodians for allowing staff and students to come back to a disinfected setting.