Summer break is over for most schools returning to the classroom, which means it’s a perfect time to assess and improve your educational facilities management program. While many were able to enjoy vacations and time off before heading back to school, custodial and maintenance teams were hard at work with repairs, upkeep, and summer cleaning.
Schools from pre-K to universities are currently bustling with students, staff, and visitors, but once things settle down, your facilities management team has a golden opportunity to reflect and make the critical changes to your facilities management program that will ensure a safe, healthy, inviting campus and a successful school year.
In our recent post about maintenance, we emphasize the importance of having a facilities team with a thoughtful, proactive approach that creates efficiencies, improves quality, and can save schools time and money. Summer break offered an ideal timeframe to work through inspections, replacements, and repairs – keeping small issues from becoming large, costly problems – without disrupting the learning environment. But if important tasks did not get done, there’s still time!
Understanding which areas need improvement after those summer efforts allows the facilities team to create a plan, address any lingering issues, and complete projects during the fall and winter break.
To help our readers identify some of the most important points in summer and fall facilities maintenance, we’ve developed the checklists below. Take a look and feel free to compare our list with your current facilities management program results – and remember, we’re always happy to talk about how we can help improve your educational facilities!
Check safety equipment and documentation
The top priority at any school is keeping students and staff safe and comfortable. Your facilities management team has a huge impact on safety and should have a clear plan in place for inspecting and maintaining safety equipment. High-level items that should appear in every plan include:
- Test fire alarms. Your facilities management partner should be able to coordinate this important annual testing with a qualified technician.
- Inspect fire extinguishers. Same here – fire extinguishers require annual inspections by qualified personnel. Make sure all extinguishers are clearly labeled, up-to-date, and functioning properly.
- Check emergency systems. Ensure all backup lights and generators are in top shape, and that evacuation plans are prominently posted in every room.
- Confirm chemicals are safe. Cleaning solutions, landscaping supplies, or any other chemicals on school grounds require proper, safe storage. Make sure every chemical is labeled and stored properly, in the right place, and ensure the accompanying Safety Data Sheets are in place.
Keep outdoor spaces safe and secure
- Walk the property. A visual inspection of your campus is an important first step. Review the grounds and exterior of all buildings, taking note of anything that might need a closer look. Don’t forget outbuildings and temporary structures!
- Upgrade your landscaping. Trim any trees or shrubs that encroach on walkways, doors, roofs, or parking areas. Now is a great time to repair any bare patches in lawns, re-mulch beds, plan for any event-related plantings, and adjust irrigation and sprinkler systems for maximum efficiency.
- Check the roofs. Physically inspect each roof to ensure shingles, flashing, HVAC ducts, and vents are in good repair.
- Review windows and doors. Ensure they open and close as they should, and that grout and seals are intact. Repair any cracked panes, sticky locks, or broken latches as soon as possible.
- Don’t forget walls and foundations. Look for cracks in any exterior cement, brick, or tiled areas.
- Keep drains working properly. Inspect gutters and downspouts for leaks or clogs, and clean everything. If water is pooling next to school buildings, consider a re-engineering of outdoor drainage to prevent larger issues over time.
Clean and organize storage spaces
A well-organized storage area serves two important purposes. First, it creates a safer, cleaner educational environment, and second, it saves time and energy when your facilities management team needs to get things done. Keep storage spaces under control with the following tips:
- Secure your shelving. Make sure all shelves and other storage structures are in good working order, clean, dry, and properly attached to floors and/or walls to prevent tipping.
- Check locks. Make storage spaces accessible only to approved team members. Double-check that all storage spaces lock, then ensure the right people have keys.
- Stay organized. Storage closets should offer safe, easy access to supplies. Clear out any unnecessary items that may have accumulated during the last school year, and place heavier items on lower shelves or the floor as a safety measure.
Maintain healthy, aesthetically appealing restrooms
Restrooms require more attention from facilities professionals than just about any other area of a school. Besides maintaining disinfected, clean surfaces year-round, your facilities team should use this time to thoroughly inspect and repair every restroom.
- Look for leaks. Check every sink, toilet, and pipe for visible leaks, and schedule immediate repairs as necessary.
- Maintain fixtures. See if toilets, urinals, and sinks are tightly attached to the wall or floor. Now’s also a great time to see if any toilets “run” after flushing. A quick repair today can save money on water in the long run.
- Repair or replace equipment. Kids can be tough on towel and soap dispensers, tiles, faucets, and just about anything else in a restroom. Make sure any needed repairs or replacements are made before they return.
Inspect cafeterias and kitchens
Food handling and preparation areas require specialized inspections and expertise. Your facilities management partner will have the appropriate experts on hand to ensure the following:
- Exhaust hoods, stoves, and grills are clean, free of grease and dust. Have exhaust hoods inspected at regular intervals, typically six months.
- Coolers, deli cases, refrigerators, and freezers should also be inspected and repaired by specialized personnel. Make sure yours are in working order, chilled to the appropriate temperatures.
- Dishwashers and sprayers should be checked for efficiency and proper water temperatures.
- Floor mats should be clean and in good condition to prevent slips and falls.
How does your facilities management program measure up? If these checklists revealed shortfalls, consider bringing in a team that specializes in educational facilities management. Ask us how!
Work with the right facilities management team
Want to know more about how HES can help your educational facilities prepare for back-to-school, the rest of the school year and beyond? Contact us at [email protected].
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