Enhanced school cleaning


Through the height of the COVID-19 crisis, schools were at the forefront of the public’s mind. Closing schools wasn’t an option. Essential workers needed to know that while they were working, their kids were safe at school. And at Facilities First, we are proud of the role our extraordinary team played in keeping schools safe with our enhanced cleaning services.

Chairs are placing upside down on the study table

School’s out… but not for the cleaners


While schools in New South Wales and Victoria never actually closed, as the pandemic worsened, more and more parents made the decision to keep their children home from school.

But for our people working in schools, their role became even more vital, despite the reduction in student numbers.

In fact, our services were significantly ramped up to support the increased demand. As our Chief Financial Officer, Alan Fonseca, explains:

“Our contracts with both the NSW Department of Education and the VIC Department of Education and Training required us to take on significant additional works. We moved to doing very focused cleans of high touchpoint areas, including bannisters, tables and bubblers as well as additional bathroom cleaning and bin emptying throughout the day.

We were faced with a different scenario in each state. In Victoria, sections of schools were closed off so our focus was on those areas that were still in use. In NSW, the entire school was open so we continued with a whole school focus. In both cases, we applied the signature Facilities First care.”

Cleaning crews work to deep clean

Increasing visibility


We’ve always known the work our cleaners do is worthy of celebration… and the pandemic has certainly highlighted that to the rest of the community. Cleaners – particularly in schools – have become much more visible as part of the day-to-day operations of the school.

“Usually, cleaners will do their work in schools in the early morning or late afternoon while students aren’t on site,” says Alan.

“But through the pandemic, schools needed cleaners on site for extended hours through the day to meet the enhanced cleaning needs.
As a result, that has made our cleaners more visible to the school communities they are working in. We see the increased visibility as a positive that has come from COVID-19. Our cleaners do amazing work and now the community can see just how valuable their role is.”

Janitor woman mopping floor in hallway office building

Job creation


At a time when jobs were suffering, we were in a unique position to create jobs to assist with the increased workload in schools. Alan explains our approach:

“We worked very closely with the NSW Department of Education and the VIC Department of Education and Training to create new jobs. This required a multi-pronged approach from our end.

We didn’t want our base contract to fall away because our cleaners were stretched with the extra hours.

Where our cleaners wanted the extra hours and had the capacity to do so, we were able to increase their hours. We also worked closely with our commercial cleaning team to redeploy staff from hospitality or retail sites that had been closed. And then our recruitment team worked around the clock to recruit new cleaners into the schools. Overall, we created 120 new jobs in Victoria and 166 new jobs in New South Wales.”

Community effort

Community effort


The increased cleaning has continued as schools have returned to ‘normal’ programming. And as with all of the changes we have experienced due to COVID-19, we are communicating closely with the state education departments to ensure we meet the needs of our clients.

For the team at Facilities First, our response is something we are very proud of.

“The work we are doing with the education departments was an amazing effort,” says Alan. “Our approach was a very collaborative one and our contractors worked very closely with the departments. We rolled out additional cleaning with short notice and received a lot of positive feedback from principals and parents to say they really valued the effort and commitment of our team.

This went beyond supplier relationships… this was about community relationships. And in my two and a half years of work at Facilities First, continues to be one of the best projects I’ve worked on.”

Through this time, we have deep-cleaned a number of schools that have had positive or suspected COVID-19 outbreaks. We will continue to work closely with the departments in each state to support and maintain a COVID-safe environment.

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