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Custodian says schools need money, help, equipment and training to keep kids and staff safe

Posted at 11:10 PM, Jul 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 13:45:56-04

As New York City Public Schools — and schools around the nation — grapple with plans on how to send kids back in to classrooms safely, cleaning and sanitizing is a top priority, and a major piece of the puzzle.

Rich Gorgoglione is a custodial engineer with NYC Public Schools, where he’s worked for about 15 years. With new deep cleaning measures in place at school buildings, he wants help for his fellow custodians.

“We’ve been deep sanitizing the buildings trying to get them ready for September, dismantling all the HVAC equipment, adjusting belts and trying to get maximum airflow to the schools,” he told PIX11’s Jennifer Bisram Monday.

While top educators have had their thinking caps on for months trying to come up with the best school reopening plans for September, Gorgoglione said they need to focus on the janitorial staff too.

“When everyone comes back to school in September, all the schools are gonna be in mint condition, shiny, and ready to go for kids. But as months go, the wear and tear on the building is gonna be hard to keep up with," he said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, custodians were tasked with maintaining all plumbing and electrical systems, carpentry work, heating and cooling throughout the buildings, and routine cleaning and maintenance.

Now, add daily deep cleanings to every classroom, library, bathroom, gym, cafeteria, and multi-purpose room.

“We do know we’re gonna be getting electrostatic sprayers. It’s a back pack sprayer and we’ll be able to spray down entire rooms and surfaces throughout the building,” he added.

But, he and his fellow custodians with the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 891, are drawing blanks when it comes to how it will all be done.

They’ve been removing old air filters, but haven’t gotten the new ones yet, and they all still have to be trained on the sanitizing equipment.

“We need the proper equipment," he said." I don’t know if we’re gonna need multiple, how long they’re gonna last, and I will have to train my crew on how to use the equipment properly.”

Still, he’s confident custodians will cover a lot ground and make it safe for students and staff when schools are reopened, but they need help.

“We’re gonna do the best we can with the budget we have, but we could definitely use more money in our budgets for manpower because we’re gonna need it," he said.

NYC Public Schools is hosting a family and student engagement session Tuesday at 6:30 p. mabout plans for the upcoming school year.

For details and how to register, click here.