August 24, 2015
A Facility Manager's Guide to Preparing A School for September
August is here, and all across the country, students are preparing to go back to school. With the end of summer fun comes the responsibility of prepping your facility for the influx of eager young minds that will soon be flooding your school"s hallways.
Preparing a school for the new school year is no simple task. There are many things that we, as responsible facility managers, must keep in mind before those doors open. Issues such as safety, comfort, and even lighting take precedence, all while keeping an often-tight budget in mind. And in addition to getting the various buildings on your school"s property ready, you also have to keep the grounds in mind as well. This includes common areas, parking lots, and any outdoor/sporting grounds, such as baseball and football fields. For high schools and colleges, swimming pools and weight rooms are also a concern.
One way we can combine efforts and save money while increasing safety and comfort is by focusing on the schools" lighting systems. Installing timed lights in restrooms is a great way to reduce energy waste. Making sure stairwells and hallways are properly lit lowers the risk of injuries and falls. Finally, as technology continues to invade classrooms, I think it is important to keep glare from windows in mind, as this can affect the students" ability to see tablet and computer screens, impeding their ability to learn and use the educational tools at their disposal.
Speaking of walkways, floor maintenance is another constant concern for facility managers in a school setting. Making sure carpet is clean and free of allergens, mold, and mildew requires diligence and the proper equipment. The same goes for other types of flooring. Tile can often crack or get marked from moving heavy furniture. To avoid scuffing or chipping, be sure to use furniture casters or gliders. To save time when cleanup is necessary, make sure all of your school"s furniture (where possible) is lightweight yet sturdy and stackable. This way, maintenance and cleaning crews can easily move furniture around to clean under it and not just around it.
Sanitation and air quality are two very important factors for school systems. Keeping students (and faculty) healthy is critical: With so many people in a limited space, an infection or flu can spread quickly, leading to absences and health concerns. To prevent illness, it is important to install devices such as automated toilet-flushing systems and hands-free antibacterial soap dispensers. Daily cleaning of all areas is also crucial. Remember to have your staff clean kitchen areas, restrooms, and commonly touched items such as doorknobs and computer keyboards; these are breeding grounds for harmful bacteria and germs.
Routine maintenance of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units can lower the amount of pollen and allergens in the air, reducing issues associated with asthma and respiratory disease. HVAC maintenance also has the added benefit of reducing energy waste, as poorly maintained heating and cooling systems can quickly become energy hogs. Make sure to give your HVAC system a thorough once-over before the school year begins.
With a bit of foresight, facility managers can earn an A+ in preparedness and ensure that the students in their school district get the year off to a healthy start!