When you come to City offices to apply for a permit or pay your water bill, you may not give much thought to the maintenance and custodial workers who keep the building running. Today, however, I’d like to commend my staff for their excellent response to the COVID-19 pandemic, from the beginning of public health concerns through the most recent round of reopenings.
Before the City closed its facilities to the public, the custodial staff ramped up cleaning efforts in order to keep visitors safe. We started a new policy of cleaning commonly touched surfaces every two hours; these include door handles, service desks, restroom surfaces and chairs in lobbies. Then, rather than slowing down during the closure, we took advantage of the reduced foot traffic to do a thorough deep cleaning.
When May 4 was set as the reopening date for some of our buildings, my staff sprang into action to ensure we would be welcoming the public back to a safe environment. We installed plexiglass barriers at service desks and placed hand sanitizing stations at entrances. We’ve also resumed our rigorous cleaning schedule for commonly touched surfaces.
My staff also played a role in the reopening of City Council meetings to the public. Once again, we installed plexiglass barriers—this time, cutting them in-house to ensure they would be the right size and shape to keep City Council members and City employees safely separated from the public and each other. We also set up overflow seating in the City Hall lobby in case the Council chambers got too crowded to follow the six-foot rule.
Throughout the entire process, I’ve been impressed by how my staff have adapted to their new routines without any complaints. I know that they, like many people, are dealing with concerns and anxieties about the new coronavirus. Despite this, they’ve carried on with their work under extraordinary circumstances, and they’ve done it without missing a beat.
The Victoria Public Library reopened today [June 1], and if you stop by to browse the shelves or say hello to the librarians, you may notice a custodial worker making the rounds to keep the library safe and clean for patrons young and old. Having a staff member at the library during business hours is a new policy that we expect to continue after the COVID-19 situation subsides; after all, the library receives hundreds of visitors each day, and we want to make sure the building is as clean in the evenings as it is when it first opens.
COVID-19 has greatly changed the ways we think about hygiene and sanitation, and my staff have proven their ability to adapt to those changes. As the City continues to reopen its facilities to the public, we’ll be there to ensure the process is handled in a safe manner.
Roger Welder is the director of Building and Equipment Services for the City of Victoria.