Staff members in Facilities Planning & Management (FP&M) departments have returned to full-time work on campus after undergoing a rigorous approval process imposed by Cal Poly Pomona’s Safer-Return Work Group.
Few departments at the university have been authorized by the campus oversight group to return to work. The campus remains in a mostly virtual learning mode and working environment.
Since July 1, most FP&M staff members have resumed the on-campus work schedules they had before a mandatory statewide stay-at-home order was issued in mid-March. FP&M work crews provide services that are essential to keep the campus operational amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Facilities is the team that everyone counts on to keep our campus clean and functioning, a role that will become even more challenging,” said Hope G. Spadora, the senior associate vice president of FP&M. “In spite of the circumstances, we will continue to provide high-quality service to the university.”
Cal Poly Pomona has instituted staggered start times for work crews, physical distancing and infection-control measures, in compliance with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health orders and best practices.
Safety precautions and workplace protocols were put in place before staff members returned to campus. Staff members were required to attend a mandatory Zoom presentation about workplace safety measures or watch a video about methods to safeguard against virus transmission as mandated by county health officials.
Before Facilities staff members report to work, they are required to perform a daily health screening to check for symptoms of the novel coronavirus, including fever, chills, sore throat, headache, fatigue, coughing, shortness of breath and muscle aches. If employees have any of these or other symptoms, they are advised to stay home and contact their healthcare provider, in accordance with county infection-control guidelines.
Personal Protective Equipment, including face masks and gloves, must be worn by staff members while performing their duties. Additional training has been given to custodians working with cleaning agents. Workers also must follow physical distancing guidelines while on campus that adhere to county decrees.
Protective work suits, personally assigned equipment, single-rider transportation guidelines and worker safety protocols also have been adopted. Hand sanitizer dispensers and disinfecting stations have been placed in all departments.
“The duties have not changed,” said Humberto Arias, the manager of Custodial and Recycling Services. “However, there is a higher cleaning level that must be applied as well as increasing the cleaning frequencies and disinfection on high-touch areas such as door handles, light switches, hand rails and elevator buttons.”
Even with members on campus, the infrastructure of the campus is subject to wear and tear, everything from mechanical devices to plumbing systems to building ventilation equipment. Facilities was already performing deferred maintenance requests before the pandemic struck. Work crews are playing catch-up after more than a four-month hiatus.
Outdoors, the trees and plants that are part of the natural beauty of the campus also require care and maintenance. Crews have been working to keep the grounds looking pristine.
“The landscape doesn’t stop growing. The improved and regular landscape area is over 500 acres, and has over 6,000 trees, 500,000 shrubs, 20,000 sprinkler heads and 15 acres of lawns,” said Richard Farmer, the manager of Landscape Services. “There are numerous legacy gardens such as the Rose Garden and Aratani Japanese Garden. These are a very important part of Cal Poly Pomona, for its history and its future.”
Most staff members from Custodial Services, Landscape Services, Electrical Shop, HVAC Shop, Automation Controls, Plumbing Shop, Lanterman Team, Auto Shop, Lock Shop, Maintenance Shop, Paint Shop and Project Services have resumed full-time work schedules. From those shops, nearly 130 staff members are back on duty. Administrative staff members continue to work remotely but also work on campus on a rotating basis.
Facilities continues to keep the campus up and running while preparing contingencies for the fall semester, which will be predominantly online with some in-person lab sessions. Barriers with Plexiglas shielding are being installed in departments and offices.
“Maintenance is an ongoing issue and the needs of the campus never stop, even in a pandemic,” said Mark Miller, the manager of Building Services. “We are making preparations for the fall semester and the return of more faculty and staff to campus.”