The Collegian
Monday, June 27, 2022

Staffing shortages put pause to private restroom cleaning services

<p>Historic North Court has been used as a cafeteria, academic building, dormitory and military hospital.</p>

Historic North Court has been used as a cafeteria, academic building, dormitory and military hospital.

The University of Richmond custodial and environmental services team has temporarily stopped private restroom cleaning services on Jan. 24 because of a staffing shortage. 

University Facilities sent an email on Jan. 20 to students to notify them of the change in custodial services. The staffing shortage is primarily because of COVID-19 close contacts and custodial services plan to resume private restroom cleaning when staff levels are back to normal, according to the email.

As of Feb. 1, there are 67 active COVID-19 cases on campus with a cumulative of 391 cases, including 129 staff and faculty members, during the spring 2022 term, according to UR’s COVID-19 Dashboard.

The staffing shortage related to COVID-19 is understandable, but cleaning services are still essential, said junior Fulvia Ispano, a Jeter Hall resident. Custodial services will continue to focus on cleaning public areas on campus, wrote Scott Lincoln, associate director of custodial and environmental services, in a Jan. 27 email to The Collegian. 

“Custodial services prioritizes cleaning and disinfecting hall restrooms, public restrooms and public areas, including frequently touched surfaces, while supporting the 400 hand sanitizer stations and 800 disinfecting wipe stations around campus,” wrote Lincoln.

Any bathroom that is connected to a student’s room or is inside a student’s apartment is considered a private restroom, wrote Facilities. 

“We’ve received that email, and initially we were quite upset about it because we really thought it was a necessary service,” Ispano said. “Especially if you’re not alone in your room, it’s really important to have bathroom cleaning, and it’s not so easy to do it by ourselves.”

Private bathroom cleaning services also paused during the 2020-2021 academic year. While students are responsible for cleaning private restrooms, custodial services put a container of disinfecting wipes on Jan. 24 in each private restroom, which will not be resupplied, according to the email.

Custodial services will also supply two cases of toilet paper for students with private restrooms to pick up from a central location weekly, according to the email. If students needed more toilet paper, they could submit a work order via SchoolDude or call (804) 289-8600 for urgent needs, Lincoln said.

Even though toilet paper and sanitizing wipes will be supplied, sophomore Isabelle Huggard, a North Court resident, said she wished more cleaning supplies were provided and that facilities notified students earlier.

“I do wish there was some cleaning supplies, so we’ll probably just have to head out soon to grab some,” Huggard said. “It’ll be an added thing to just my weekly rhythm…I wish I’d known probably before this semester started just so I could plan.”

While there is no definitive timeline for when private restroom cleaning will resume, custodial services will adjust their procedures as needed to prioritize the safety of students, faculty and staff, Lincoln wrote. 

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Students can pick up toilet paper in the following locations:

  • Gray Court – basement laundry
  • North Court – basement and 3rd floor
  • South Court – basement laundry
  • Westhampton Hall – 2nd floor laundry
  • Keller Hall – 3rd floor laundry
  • Lora Robins Court – basement laundry
  • University Forest Apartment – 191, 168, 472 laundries
  • Gateway Apartments – 157 laundry
  • Thomas Hall – basement laundry
  • Jeter Hall — basement laundry
  • Lakeview Hall – 2nd floor laundry
  • Mitchell Freeman Hall – 2nd floor laundry
  • Robins Hall – basement laundry

Contact news writer Katie Castellani at katie.castellani@richmond.edu.  

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