Higher education has taken a hard financial blow in 2020. How the pandemic will affect future enrollment remains to be seen, but we do know students are eager to return – as safely as possible – to a campus environment. Administrators should feel comfortable leaning on their facility services partners to help colleges survive COVID-19.
For colleges and universities, the financial implications of staying closed are daunting, to say the least. While reopening campus presents a host of challenges, working with the right facility services partner can help control costs – and possibly even bolster enrollment.
Here are three ways higher ed campuses can use a facilities management company to reopen more safely and welcome the campus community with confidence – whether that’s today, next month, or on a “wait and see” basis.
Prepare, protect, prevent
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for returning to campus. An experienced facilities management team will collaborate with you to create an integrated disinfecting plan tailored to your specific needs – including fluctuating space usage, phased reopenings, and urgent cleaning tasks related to Coronavirus exposures.
Tap into your facility services team’s expertise for the design, implementation, continuous support, and quality assurance of your custodial services plan, and make sure they have the resources and expertise to scale services up or down, so you have a seamless response to emerging issues.
We know that as of May 2020, 75 percent of undecided high school seniors were taking COVID-19 into consideration as part of their higher education decision process. A detailed Campus Readiness plan helps reassure anxious students and their families that their well-being is your top priority, and that clear steps are in place to create a safer campus environment.
It makes sense, then, to invest in enhanced cleaning and disinfecting with a Campus Readiness plan that anticipates shifting priorities. When service levels are flexible and responsive, administrators are better able to manage expenses while maintaining health and safety standards.
Long before the Coronavirus pandemic, schools across the nation had already begun embracing the challenge of sustainability. These days, students expect their colleges and universities to cut waste, improve energy efficiency, and consider the environmental implications of campus operations.
Contrary to popular belief, sustainable practices are not at odds with financial prudence. A campus with sustainable practices in place can save money and attract students who consider “going green” a non-negotiable.
The first step toward creating a more sustainable campus while managing costs is to get the expert input of a facility management company. Bringing in an outside contractor gives higher education administrators a chance to explore environmentally conscious options they might otherwise miss.
A key opportunity for any college or university is earning LEED certification. Definitely work with a facilities management team that will guide you through the process in any areas they can impact, including occupant recycling and waste stream audits.
And as campuses move toward more vigorous cleaning and disinfecting programs, your facility management team will know which EPA-approved cleaning solutions are correct for different campus spaces – dining halls versus bathrooms, for instance. The right team also has rigorous training in disinfectant safety data sheets, OSHA standards, and CDC COVID-19 recommendations, among other skills.
All this creates a more focused, efficient approach to disinfecting and cleaning activities, saving time and money by ensuring cleaning tasks are done safely and correctly the first time.
Of course, health and safety are absolutely top-of-mind. With the right plan in place, campuses can balance environmental care with stringent cleaning standards, attracting and retaining more students.
Take advantage of technology
The right facilities management technology can contribute to better efficiency and lower expenses across the board.
Whether documenting cleaning and disinfecting tasks or sharing vital information with the campus community, technology plays an increasingly significant role in the world of facilities services. In fact, software platforms can empower higher ed administrators by providing custom reports – even in real-time – that document when, where, and how your FM team is working on your campus.
But don’t overlook the importance of community outreach. One in four current college students wants to see improved COVID-19 communications from their school. In the hands of a dedicated FM team, specialized software can help administrators respond to urgent situations, convey vital information to students, and build trust with the public – all helping to weather the COVID-19 crisis.