School maintenance and COVID-19: Key considerations to remember

Ben Cook |   September 30, 2020 at 9:00 AM

School maintenance and COVID-19: Key considerations to remember

Every school business manager knows that staying on top of maintenance requires careful planning and preparation, especially when trying to reduce disruptions to the staff and students. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated school maintenance by introducing additional workplace health and safety (WHS) considerations, many of which can change at a moment’s notice.

For business managers who are revisiting their school maintenance plans or simply trying to stay on top of additional health and safety requirements, we’ve created a checklist of the key COVID-19 considerations to remember when managing and planning school maintenance.


1. COVID Safety Plan

One of the most significant changes to your school maintenance plan will be the addition of a COVID Safety Plan. While it’s likely that there will be a school-wide plan in place, different projects and activities will need a more specific risk assessment and mitigation steps. The COVID-19 resources by SafeWork Australia or your state WHS organisation is a great place to start. Additionally, a competent and reliable contractor should also complete a COVID-19 risk assessment before they start work. If they don’t, then you should reconsider hiring them.


2. Contractor sign-in

While it’s always been important to know who’s on-site at any one time, this information is even more important in the new world of contact tracing. While your school’s front office will probably manage sign-in procedures for maintenance staff and contractors during the week, be sure to have a system in place for any weekend work that takes place. You should visit your local state government’s website to find out exactly what information you need to collect, but generally a name, date and time of visit, and contact method is required.


3. Surface sanitisation

We all know that personal hygiene is a critical defence against the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases, but have you thought about the bacteria and germs that may be spread through surfaces in your school? While you may already be disinfecting high-touch surfaces such as door handles and desks, many microbes are capable of living on inanimate objects for months at a time - and there are a lot of surfaces in a school - so antimicrobial sanitisation is a critical addition to your school maintenance plan.

While most antimicrobial sanitisation only works on first contact, Higgins’ service uses a disinfectant that bonds to surfaces and continues killing 99.99% of germs and bacteria for up to 28 days. Including this type of building sanitisation as part of your regular school maintenance will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep your people safe.


4. Resource management

While your school may not currently be experiencing major restrictions due to COVID-19, this won’t necessarily always be the case. Maintenance projects in schools in Melbourne’s metropolitan area during Victoria’s second wave of the virus were classified into three categories by the Victorian School Building Authority. While critical infrastructure projects and those involving essential maintenance were allowed to continue, other projects were restricted or suspended entirely.

Obviously, you can’t predict exactly how the rate of cases in your state or territory will change in the future, nor influence how government bodies decide to manage industry restrictions. But you can be smart in how you allocate resources and plan projects. If your state is currently experiencing relative freedom, then it may be time to do a hard sprint on some non-critical maintenance projects while you have the opportunity, especially if social distancing limits the number of people who can work on essential maintenance projects.


5. Cost reduction

In the current economic climate, almost every organisation is trying to trim costs, so there’s never been a better time to consider how you can reduce maintenance costs. One of the easiest ways to save money is to invest in preventative maintenance, which can return an ROI of as much as 545% by:

  • Minimising natural deterioration and eliminating the costly repair and replacement of building materials
  • Smoothing cashflow
  • Minimising disruption by dealing with issues earlier and in a scheduled manner
  • Increasing demand and improving retention by ensuring a good first impression and maintaining the school’s image

In the COVID-19 pandemic, preventative maintenance also has the benefit of allowing you to more easily schedule work and control the number of people on-site at any one time.

For more information on planning and coordinating the various challenges and aspects of school maintenance and management, download our free Guide to School Management, which gives busy school business managers tips and tools for delivering strong results throughout the year.

A Guide to School Management

Higgins Coatings provides Australia's schools with building maintenance plans, commercial painting, and refurbishment services in select areas. We understand that school facilities need to make a good impression on parents, students, and alumni at all times. Our preventative maintenance plans are designed to keep your school or educational facility looking its best while working within your timing, budget, and safety requirements. Higgins has an ISO tri-certification accreditation in safety, quality and the environment. Contact us today to learn more about our school painting maintenance solutions.