Millie Hernandez has a slogan that inspires her work at Landstown High School: “What makes them happy, makes me happy.”
“The parents want a clean school, so I keep it clean,” she says. “When you come to my school, you can tell we take pride here.”
While students were learning from home, Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ 620 custodians kept up their daily routines – making hallways, classrooms and bathrooms shine brighter and brighter. Everything is in tiptop shape for students to return.
“The school is clean,” says Joseph Davis, head custodian at Indian Lakes Elementary. “The floor looks like ice, and that’s the way I like it.”
At Landstown High, Hernandez and the night supervisor are part of a team of 18 custodians who have been keeping everything sanitized. In recent weeks, students have been coming into the building for SOL tests and for winter sports.
Extra attention is given to cleaning athletic equipment, explains Hernandez, who leads the daytime staff. Bleachers, barbells and basketball hoops are disinfected multiple times before and after competitions and practices.
“There’s a lot of kids in here starting at 3 p.m.,” he says. “We want to keep it germ-free.”
Hernandez’s staff members are sticking to their regimens.
“I make sure they are wiping down the phones at night, even if the phones may not have been used that day,” Hernandez adds. “We have to do it right every time.”
Davis sets the same high standards at Indian Lakes.
“When I pressure-wash the walls, I have the other custodians come after me and wipe them down,” he explains. The work can be repetitive – “Even if it’s been wiped down, we wipe it down again,” Davis says – but it’s all worth it to keep the students safe.
Nothing is left untouched – from plastic shields to light fixtures to air vents. They’re all kept clean.
“I do things by the book,” Hernandez says.
Landstown Assistant Principal Jason Stanley can’t say enough good things about Hernandez and the custodial staff.
“We’re super-blessed to have her here with us,” he says. “Today when I came into the office, a custodian was there to make sure everything was clean and that my trashcan had been emptied. They’re really on top of everything.”
According to Area Supervisor Francine Kerbo, custodians have adjusted to new equipment and shifting schedules this past year.
“They’re so many things we do, and it’s always changing,” Kerbo says. “Yet we’re adapting.”
“All of the area supervisors commend our custodians for their steadfast commitment and support for making sure every day that our schools are kept clean and sanitized for students and staff,” she adds.
Davis is glad students are returning to school.
“I love the kids,” he says. “I look forward to them coming back.”