VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A cleaning crew from ABM Facility Services was busy power washing an elementary school on Monday morning, a day before teachers and staff return to classrooms. Elizabeth Albert, President of the Volusia United Educators said she’s lost faith in the school district’s cleaning company and its ability to properly clean, especially now during a pandemic.
“Historically, they’ve always been understaffed and they have not always had enough supplies to do the job, and so it’s not surprising to me that the day before the bulk of the folks come back, they’re not ready,” said Elizabeth Albert.
She also claimed to have received a couple of pictures from an elementary school showing a dirty classroom from a teacher who had already reported back to campus.
“What I found out today was that even with this pandemic, they have not changed their protocols in how they clean in our schools. So, they’re using the same strategies and benchmarks that they used four years ago when they couldn’t do the job, now in this COVID pandemic time. The only additional requirement that they have added, is that all horizontal surfaces will be wiped down,” said Albert.
Ruben Colon, one of the Volusia County School Board members said cleaning crews must now sanitize in addition to cleaning all areas including high touch surfaces on a daily basis. The school district said electrostatic misters or E-misters will also be used to spray disinfecting fog when needed. Teachers will also receive a cleaning kit that includes personal protection equipment and cleaning supplies that Colon said will be restocked daily.
"We've actually taken them to task and added tasks to them which they've agreed to provide for our schools in order to ensure that they are ready upon the start of the school year," said Ruben Colon.
Colon said it's important for teachers to report any cleaning issues to the school board as soon as possible so it can be addressed.
"If they do not provide the services to the district as we expect to be, we will have to seek other alternatives," said Colon.
“Teachers want to engage, they want to do this very good work of teaching but we can only go back into our schools when it’s safe,” said Albert.
Colon told News 6 the school district paid $14.2 million dollars a year for custodial services and has a five-year contract with ABM Facility Services that’s set to expire in 2023. News 6 called ABM for comment but the company has yet to respond.