Detailed action plans can help school administrators ensure more effective-and cost-effective- cleaning and maintenance of their facilities. Without such an action plan, cleaning tasks are more likely to be skipped or-worse-forgotten, leading to an unhealthy facility environment, damage to school assets, and even a deterioration of staff and student morale. Any cleaning action plan should be put in writing so that it can be referred to as necessary and so that all cleaning staff know and understand the steps involved. A written custodial action plan also helps school administrators and cleaning staff to make a commitment to and follow the plan.
An effective action plan for cleaning would include the following steps:
First, establish a to-do list of cleaning activities and how often they should be performed. Some cleaning tasks will need to be performed almost every day, others just once a week, and still others, as we shall discuss, only at specific times of the year. Listing all cleaning duties will help ensure that all are performed when necessary and that no task is missed or forgotten.
Next, indicate which of the cleaning tasks are the most critical. Unexpected changes may occur with staffing or with facility requests (including those for special events), and prioritizing tasks helps ensure that the most critical cleaning tasks are not postponed.
A custodial action plan should have goals. For instance, a goal might be to transfer the entire campus to green cleaning by a certain date or to reduce waste, energy, and water consumption by certain amounts in a specific time frame. An action plan should address the steps to be taken to help achieve these goals. Administrators should also realize that changes in facility maintenance needs can occur throughout the year. Having a written custodial action plan in place makes it easier to accommodate these unforeseen changes and to integrate any new cleaning tasks into the existing plan.
Floorcare and Cleaning Action Plans
To show how an effective custodial action plan might work, let’s start with hard surface floorcare. Years ago, most educational institutions had policies directing that hard surface floors be stripped and refinished (what is referred to as restorative care or restoration) two or more times per year. Over the years, labor costs and the potential negative environmental ramifications of many floorcare tasks have put a halt to many of these activities.
As a result, in recent years, some administrators have stopped applying a floor finish to floors entirely. However, here is what school administrators should know: the reason for applying a floor finish is to protect the floor; the shine that comes from the finish is a secondary benefit. Further, applying a finish to the floor makes it easier to clean and maintain, which can lead to cost savings as well.
Instead of eliminating floor refinishing, an effective custodial action plan would evaluate “how much each floor in a facility is ‘worth,’ to help determine how often and when each floor should be refinished,” advises Dave Frank, a cleaning consultant and president of the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences (AICS). “For instance, a lobby floor in a student union building is likely ‘worth’ a lot more than the hard surface floor in the mailroom in the back of the building, in terms of both visibility and foot traffic,” says Frank. Frank suggests that administrators evaluate all hard surface floors on campus, based on both visibility and amount of foot traffic, to determine which are high-value floors, medium-value floors, and low-value floors.
More information on floorcare is available here.