Preventing Campus Contamination: How YSU is Fighting COVID-19 

By Kelcey Norris

While most of the Youngstown State University campus community is away, staff members are continually working to disinfect the university in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Martyn Moss, manager of building services, said the janitorial staff is vigorously decontaminating the entire campus and focusing on “disinfecting all touch-point surfaces.”

“We’re making sure we get the door handles and all the entrances into offices. We’ve gone through all the classrooms and disinfected all of the desks and chairs,” he said. “Anything someone might have touched, we’ve already been disinfecting it.”

In addition to heightened disinfecting, the staff still performs routine janitorial work such as mopping floors and dusting. 

“There are still germs in the air and in the ventilation systems, so we’re trying to keep that clean as well,” Moss said. 

He said his staff quickly went to work but acknowledges YSU has always kept things germ-free.

“We’ve always disinfected doorknobs and that, but we make sure we pay a little more attention and get to those more often now,” Moss said. “After the students and staff went on spring break, that’s when we really hit the classrooms hard and are still cleaning them now.”

Photo By Kamron Meyers

He said janitorial duties are a great defense to keeping everyone safe but added that people also need to take responsibility for precautions. 

“We need to be washing our hands continuously, using hand sanitizer and not touching our eyes or faces,” Moss said 

Julie Gentile, director of environmental and occupational health and safety, also said the best way to fight the disease is to take a personal initiative.

“There are recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and basically what they’re saying is typical household cleaners we would all have, like Clorox wipes and Lysol spray, are very effective at cleaning and disinfecting, even with COVID-19,” she said. 

Gentile said her department was directly involved in planning how the university would uphold recommendations for social distancing and disinfecting.

“We would make sure that areas were identified that could accommodate social distancing,” she said. “We also worked with our janitors and crew on site to make sure the cleaning products were in accordance with EPA guidelines, making sure they were the best to disinfect and kill these viruses.”

Gentile said YSU was already strategizing for COVID-19 to hit before it was considered a pandemic. 

“There were a lot of us who started meeting a couple times a week in the beginning of February,” she said. “We were just in the preplanning phases when China had the outbreak, but we started meeting and planning at that point.” 

Gentile said while the virus is still being tested, medical professionals can agree that it is extremely contagious. 

“It’s two times more contagious than a normal flu virus, so making sure surfaces are clean and at a higher frequency will help decrease the risk that it’s passed on from person to person,” she said. 

The Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center staff have also been taking an active role on social media, showing their followers diligent cleaning methods.Ryan McNicholas, associate director of campus recreation, said the cleaning products the rec center uses are graded for fitness facilities.  

We always have the highest standards of cleaning for our department,” he said. “We have scheduled maintenance of the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center.”

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