Maintaining Respect For Custodians Amid Reopening

Article from CleanLink

Cleaning work — whether done in a K-12 school, a university campus, food service area, retail chain, hotel or hospital — is a foundational skill that introduced almost all of us to the socio-economic food chain. Just stop and think about it for a moment. Cleaning is one of the first skills that most people learn during early childhood.

It’s safe to say that most of us have memories of being told to “clean up” at the end of playtime. And for many, our first jobs included tidying up our bedrooms, taking out the trash, or for some of us who had persnickety parents, cleaning the bathroom.

Although these are often considered unpleasant chores, they taught us about infection control, hygiene and to care for the environment in which we exist. These lessons we learned carry us through life.

For example, cleaning up is among the first duties we learn when we enter any job. Just about everyone has a cleaning responsibility in the workplace, even if it means simply taking care of their immediate working area.

In the context of a career path that is often marginalized and misunderstood, it’s a great reminder that we’re all connected by a straightforward truth — we all have a responsibility to clean. Whether it’s in our own homes, workspaces, or cars, the way we maintain our spaces as we inhabit them sends an unambiguous message about our character.

About a decade ago, an independent documentary came out that featured the lives of custodial workers at college campuses across the United States. It was called “The Philosopher Kings.” If you can find a copy, I encourage you to watch it, as it is the embodiment of this essential concept.

Not only was it the first film that I’d ever seen that portrayed custodial workers in a non-patronizing way, but it also dug deeper into the lives of the people who do the daily work. One gentleman was working as a janitor to make a living, while also pursuing his dream of being an artist. Another was working two jobs — one as a cab driver and the other as a janitor at Princeton. He was doing this to help support his family in Haiti and bring potable water to the community.

When I apply this to my own life, cleaning has been a vital part of every job, service or activity in which I’ve been a participant. When I was 15, my first job was as a sweeper at a local high school. The summer after that, I cleaned up restrooms at a large outdoor concert venue. I was a baker at a bagel bakery, which required me to clean the kitchen for the opening shift. I was a radio DJ at a community radio station, where if you didn’t clean up after your show, you didn’t have a show anymore. I worked as a front desk clerk at a hotel, and when the housekeeping staff was short, I was helping turn rooms. My first office job was in a cubicle farm, where it was made very clear to us that, except for trash removal, we were responsible for our “personal” spaces.

As schools plan to officially reopen in the fall, and as restaurants, retail shops, hotels, airports and venues start to fill up again, my only hope is that the enthusiasm about cleaning up after ourselves doesn’t get lost in the excitement to return to a sense of normalcy. I know that I’ll be doing my part to help keep my spaces clean, not only because it’s the right thing to do but also because it’s part of my job as a building occupant.

Summer Olympics Begin Next Month Amid COVID-19 Concerns

The U.S. has been reopening large facilities, such as stadiums and arenas, with the help of new cleaning certifications and disinfecting methods to help keep summer spectators safe from COVID-19 this summer. However, safety authorities have concerns regarding the biggest sporting event of the summer— the Olympics— which are set to open on July 23 in Tokyo, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

More than 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from over 200 nations and territories are expected to be in Tokyo for the event, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Also in attendance will be 59,000 other people like coaches, judges, officials, broadcasters, media, and members of the athletes’ families. Overall, the total amount of people scheduled to enter Tokyo will be 93,490, which organizers say is 50% less than the original forecast of 180,000 since spectators from overseas were barred from attending games.

The IOC has said that vaccination is not required for participating in the Olympics, but the committee encourages all athletes to be fully vaccinated. More than 80% of athletes and staff staying in the Olympic Village on Tokyo Bay will be vaccinated and are expected to remain in a social “bubble” to minimize contagion risk until they compete and then leave Japan within two days of their finish.

Facility and sports authorities will follow guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) during the Tokyo Games. Roads have already been closed around the venues and the city of Tokyo and other parts of Japan will remain under a state of emergency until June 20, according to AP. Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee, said that media entering Japan could be monitored by GPS through their phones to ensure they are following safety rules. “We can use the GPS and if they’re going to places outside the business destinations, that will become very apparent,” Moto said. “After 14 days they can engage in the normal media activity and coverage.”

Japanese medical officials and 50-80% of the public oppose holding the Olympics in July due to concerns that it will become a “super spreader” event and have called for canceling the games. As concerns grow, 10,000 out of 80,000 unpaid volunteers have dropped out of the games and 3,500 out of 40,000 city volunteers have also pulled out, Reuters reports.

However, Seiro Hashimoto, Olympics organizing committee president, said the event will be safe for athletes, and government guidance will be followed for any local fans at venues. “Taking infection control measures for athletes and Games officials so athletes from the world can safely participate and to protect our people’s lives and health, I think that is the premise of holding (the Olympics),” Prime Minister Yoshibide Suga told lawmakers in parliament earlier this month.

Beloved Janitor Surprised with Graduation Celebration

A beloved school custodian was surprised with a goodbye and graduation celebration from students and staff at Wacochee Elementary School in Salem, Alabama, ABC News reports.

On May 25—the last day of school—students and staff celebrated Derrick Harris’ college graduation from Wallace Community College Selma. Students lined the hallways of the elementary school to cheer and held signs that read “You’re my hero!”

Harris worked during the day at the school and attended college classes at night. He has been hired as a physical education (PE) assistant for the 2021-2022 school year and hopes to be a PE teacher in the future. “I’m excited to work with more kids and more students and impact them in a positive way,” Harris said.

Tracie Lane, teacher at Wacoochee Elementary School, told ABC News, “He has been a mentor to so many. He is such a light, a shining light to everybody he’s around. We congratulate you Derrick. We know the sky’s the limit for you.”

Harris plans to attend Auburn University at Montgomery in Montgomery, Alabama this fall.