Cleaning School Buildings

Iowa Falls-Alden High School custodians Marty Berke (left), Andy Blunt (right) and Tradell Berke (not pictured) return items to one of the classrooms Tuesday afternoon. The custodial crew is stripping every classroom to disinfect the items in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were no students roaming the hallways inside Iowa Falls-Alden High School Tuesday afternoon, but three members of the custodial staff were undertaking some their deep summer cleaning duties in an attempt to rid the building of any  germs that may be present.

School districts have canceled classes for the next four weeks. While it's proven inconvenient for families and disruptive to learning, it has also provided a window for cleaning the school buildings.

At IFAHS, head custodian Andy Blunt and custodians Tradell Berke and Marty Berke were removing every item from each classroom to disinfect the items and clean the room before moving everything back into the room.

Blunt said the work is similar to what's done during the summer months. The only difference is his custodial crew isn't stripping and waxing floors.

"It does feel like summer but it's a lot cooler out. After we get everything out of the room, we sanitize the items," Blunt said. "We are using a highly concentrated disinfectant cleaner. We are also putting that disinfectant into our floor scrubber."

Tradell Berke said the trio removes each item and starts working their way down from the ceiling fans all the way to the floor. They're leaving nothing to chance.

"This is our second day and we've already finished six rooms in the high school," Tradell Berke said. "Pretty much anything that's been touched by a person, we are wiping down with the disinfectant."

A similar practice will be underway in the Eldora-New Providence and Hubbard-Radcliffe school districts. South Hardin Superintendent Dr. Adam Zellmer said Tuesday that they were awaiting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but planned to take similar measures in each of their school buildings.

Zellmer said the unexpected month-long break may provide an opportunity to move some other projects up on the schedule as well.

"Some of our summer building projects may be moved up. We might as well take some advantages of our down time without students," Zellmer said. "I would think a few items could be done while they are absent from the building for the next four weeks."

When the IFAHS custodians are finished going through every room, they'll turn their attention to other tasks. Those will include windows and busy traffic entrance/exit points.

In some ways, the crew believes they're doing what they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"I would rather do my part to help than sit at home and worrying about it," Tradell Berke said.

Marty Berke said the pandemic forced him to change his work schedule. He was used to working the night shift, but has been assisting Blunt and Tradell (who is Marty's mother) with day work inside the high school building.

"Everyone be safe and stay home," Marty Berke said. "Just don't think of the virus and think happy thoughts."

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