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University Physical Plant in COVID-19 Spotlight
September 22, 2020 -
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The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a much-deserved spotlight on the nation’s essential workers and the crucial roles they play in controlling the spread of the coronavirus. Front-line maintenance and engineering technicians – especially those in education facilities – are among those getting their 15 minutes of fame.
At Elon University, Tim Dengler, Elon’s director of building trades tells the Elon News Network that the university’s physical plant is working vigilantly to ensure the community has a safe and healthy 2020-2021 academic year.
With the onset of COVID-19 and certain restrictions and guidelines, Dengler says the physical plant has implemented specific protocols into their daily routine, none of which takes time away from or diminishes the quality of their work. Dengler says that since March, physical plant workers have taken responsibility and precautions for COVID-19 to protect themselves and the Elon community.
“Even before the university had gone with the mask policy, here in Physical Plant because of the nature of our work ... we were wearing masks very early on just to make sure we weren’t spreading anything,” Dengler says. “We didn’t want the whole shop to get sick at once. So using those protocols — handwashing, not sharing tools, trying to keep as separate as we can — are things we put in place to ensure if someone got sick that we could isolate them and that it wouldn’t spread to the rest of the department.”
The physical plant continues to abide by university guidelines while maintaining and producing quality work. According to Eric Hill, the carpentry shop supervisor, more than 110 plexiglass shields have been installed in various offices and anywhere that will have a lot of contact between students and staff.
In addition, more than 300 sanitation stations, both wall-mounted and free-standing, have been put in classrooms and meeting areas, and over 1,000 physical distancing floor and seating signs has been installed.
Dan Hounsell is editor of Facility Maintenance Decisions.