Return to Campus: Cleaning COVID-19 Exposure Areas

by University Marketing and Communications

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series detailing several aspects of campus operations as the University enters Step Three in our Return to Campus Plan.

Today (July 27), Michigan Tech completed our Return to Campus Plan and transitioned to the Health and Safety Levels that will guide our behavior from the fall semester forward. In this article, Theresa Coleman-Kaiser, associate vice president for administration, and Scott Wendt, manager of health and safety for Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), discuss specifics of the University’s plan for cleaning this fall.

Q: How will an area where a COVID-19 exposure is reported be cleaned?

TC-K: If a cleanup is needed, we will be working under the guidance of EHS, who will give direction on the cleanup. In preparation for this, we have the necessary sanitizing products and personal protective equipment (PPE) in-house and are talking through our staffing plans.

SW: Facilities staff are being trained in proper products, PPE, and techniques for any cleanup they may be involved with. The protocol is very similar to the cleanup process they are familiar with for MRSA or norovirus. If a cleanup will be performed by departmental staff, they will do so under the guidance of EHS or the Research Integrity Office (RIO).

Q: Will the cleanup be handled in-house or by a commercial vendor?

TC-K: Determining who will clean a space will be handled on a case-by-case basis based on the type of space (student room, research lab, departmental office space), what type of surfaces need to be sanitized, and the availability of in-house resources to do the work. It could be facilities staff, departmental or research staff, or a commercial vendor.

SW: We are currently in the process of identifying and vetting commercial vendor(s) who may be available to do this work and are familiar with the proper Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and University COVID-19 protocols and guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting.

Q: Generally speaking, how long will it take before the area is reopened following exposure?

TC-K: The lead time needed to reopen any spaces requiring cleaning after an exposure will vary. The size and type of space, and what surfaces need to be cleaned will influence the amount of time necessary to clean.

SW: Ideally, we’d like the space to ventilate, unoccupied, for 24 hours prior to any cleanup efforts. In cases where this is not possible, we will make an immediate cleanup our highest priority.