Facility Management in a Pandemic

The college years are some of the most crucial years of a young adult’s life.  It’s the time when they choose their careers, make lifelong friends, and learn who they are as people.  Each day, while finding themselves hundreds of thousands of students depend on the safety of their campus facilities, so they can continue to grow in their pursuit of higher education.  Lately, due to the coronavirus outbreak, many students are continuing their education online, but will soon return to the classroom as usual.

Managing campus facilities has become increasingly difficult due to the pandemic. Facilities managers, who were once tasked with the maintenance and renovation of buildings now have an even greater responsibility - implementing prevention and virus containment procedures throughout the campus.  As university students nationwide slowly make their way back into the classroom, there are several precautions facility managers can take:

Reduce the Concentration of Personnel

Many will agree that introducing physical distancing procedures to a college campus is no easy feat.  Most campuses aren't designed to handle the distance recommended by the CDC, as classrooms seldom have the space needed to accommodate large, spread-out groups.

Managers can reduce the concentration of students and faculty by relocating classes to the larger facilities on campus, which can be done so by viewing the preexisting campus drawings and using them to carefully map-out potential meeting areas.  Unfortunately, this means some recreational facilities such as gyms and auditoriums will be closed, as they will be used for classes instead (a necessary sacrifice).

Cleaning and Disinfecting 

Facility workers can do their part by ensuring all facilities are sanitized properly.  The CDC recommends keeping records of which buildings have been sanitized and when, as they should be cleaned between sessions to better contain the virus, and suggests wearing disposable gloves, cleaning surfaces with soap and water before disinfecting, and giving careful attention to high-touch surfaces, i.e., tables, doorknobs, light switches, etc.

Keep Everyone Informed

Facility managers and other members of the staff should keep an open line of communication when it comes to potential outbreaks.  If a student or faculty member is known to have contracted the virus, the university needs to do everything they can to reduce the number of people they come in contact with.  Contact tracing has helped scientists track the spread of viruses such as tuberculosis and HIV, and is now being used to help contain the coronavirus. Whether you are a scientist or not, contact tracing is a great way to reduce the number of people infected in your establishment. Facility management can play a useful part in documenting when facilities are open and closed and which activities have taken place in the building.  If available, camera footage used to monitor spaces can add to the information on who and when was in a building.

How can a document management system help?

Since the establishment of the first universities, document management has played an integral role in the growth and maintenance of their facilities.  Facilities management, however, encompasses multiple disciplines that require vast numbers of drawings and documents.

Documents management systems help universities manage these disciplines and solve complex issues over collaboration, document distribution, and engineering in a greater effort to improve their facilities for the benefit of their faculty and students.  In this case, facility managers can use a document management system for much more, including the storage of large amounts of camera footage.

Facility managers with access to a robust workflow and document management systems, such as ImageSite and Engine-Box, can easily manage the plethora of files and documents used to keep campuses safe while communicating from a single location ensuring rapid response times.

To learn more about ImageSite, click here, or schedule a demo. To learn more about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, click here.