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The Pillars of a School District: The Custodian

Without them, the entire building does not work
Cameron Loss
Lights need to be changed, floors need cleaning…it never ends for these hard working people.

The task of running a school district is a difficult and challenging one that requires many groups of people to work in unison to create a working school system. We often hear about these individuals who are instrumental to a school’s success, for example, teachers and administrative staff.

But we forget about another class of workers that truly serve as the foundation of a school district. That without these essential workers the school would simply.             

I want to start by looking at the daily routine of a custodian. Some custodians arrive around 5:30 AM each day and the first shift leaves at 2 PM, but let us start with the beginning of a normal day.

My position requires the person to be a jack of all trades

— David Richards

The normal day consists of first unlocking the middle and high school doors at 6 AM. Then begins normal cleaning tasks, such as taking care of the cafeteria maintenance and flow at 10:30 and 11:45 respectively. 

After this, they assist with the cleaning of the kitchen and other cafeteria cleaning chores. On some days they partake in repairing and maintaining tasks, like welding and other minor repairs, During the winter seasons snow management is added to the tasks, including plowing, salting, and sanding the walkways.

Cleaning the desks, especially after COVID, is a daily necessity. (Cameron Loss)

During the COVID pandemic, on top of everything else, they would help prepare and transport grab-and-go lunches which would be transferred to Sutton and other surrounding towns, and also took up the new nightly task of fogging every classroom. 

Fogging involves the dispersion of a cleaning agent in mist form which can more easily traverse a large area. The purpose was to eliminate any virus-causing germs that might have been lingering from the school day. 

The prospect of having to clean every classroom nightly is in itself a huge task and is worth respect and praise. Many of our school’s custodial staff contracted COVID in their service to us the students and the entire community. 

In the pursuit of limiting the grip of COVID-19. Perhaps we owe a greater respect to those who worked hard to keep the community healthy and well maintained.  

In my research, I have come across the universal fallacy that custodians only clean and their sole purpose is to clean but after researching the topic to the greatest lengths at my disposal, I have realized there is nothing further from the truth. 

The word custodian derives from the Latin word “custos” which translates to guardian. This means that the position isn’t locked at cleaning but instead covers all property management tasks which is a huge undertaking.

The cafeteria? Swept once a day, right? Hardly. The need to sweep here is constant. (Cameron Loss)

Custodians are tasked with cleaning, managing, and preserving the state of a school for us and future generations. They fix broken windows, doors, and fallen ceiling tiles, and much more. But, in order to get a better understanding of their job I decided that an interview would be the best means of expanding my knowledge. 

So I interviewed custodian David Richards. I asked him about the effects of COVID-19 and how the staff adapted and then I proceeded to ask about his daily routine and responsibilities. I wanted to examine the work completed by members of this community. 

I started by asking him how the cleaning staff adjusted to the pandemic requirements and did the pandemic drastically alter his work habits or response abilities. “The pandemic put tasks on our plate such as fogging classrooms nightly. Also having to set up four lunch rooms was quite a challenge. We also assisted the kitchen staff with handing out food two to three times a week to multiple towns.

Cleanliness in the kitchen is crucial, and our hard working staff keep our kitchens in top notch shape. (Cameron Loss)

“There was a lot of increased stress in the beginning when we didn’t know how dangerous the virus was. Many of us were very worried about working in a public setting bringing the sickness home and spreading it to our loved ones.”

I wondered if he had contracted COVID-19 in his duties as a Custodian. He answered yes and described that he contracted the illness towards the end of year two of the virus. 

I then asked him about his daily routine and the responsibilities that his job involves. “A normal day is to unlock the building and then lock the building at the appropriate time along with performing maintenance tasks. 

“Also taking care of lunch duties and cleaning the kitchen at the end of the day. My position requires the person to be a jack of all trades from cleaning to operating grounds equipment. snow removal, and even welding from time to time. Some of the welding tasks are simple and can be easily overlooked, for example, welding a basketball hoop or welding tracker parts for snow cleanup.”

All of these tasks present their own individual challenges and difficulties that when combined create a position that truly serves as a pillar of the community and one that we should praise and appreciate.

Custodians are tasked with cleaning, managing, and preserving the state of a school for us and future generations

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About the Contributor
Matthew Gemme
Matthew Gemme, Staff Reporter
I am a junior at Sutton. That is all you get.

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    Melissa WhitfordNov 13, 2023 at 6:48 am

    Great job Matt!