By GALEN HAWES
ADA – East Central University’s Physical Plant employees are the driving force in keeping the campus not only open during the Covid-19 pandemic, but also safe. Their collective diligence is a big reason ECU has remained open while other schools have been forced to close.
“This is a team effort,” said Darryl Overstreet, director of ECU Facilities Management. “I think it takes dedication for us to come together and face these challenges. We want to make life easier and safer for students, faculty and all employees.”
Physical Plant employees are “frontline” workers on campus, because they work in high-traffic areas. They maintain approximately 50 buildings across campus, including classrooms, offices and student housing facilities – in addition to keeping the grounds in excellent shape.
“When we went online in the spring, they remained on campus disinfecting and preparing for our safe return,” said Dr. Katricia Pierson, ECU president. “The do commendable work. Not only are they completing their regular duties, which didn’t go away because of Covid-19, they are also going the extra mile to help us stay healthy. We are grateful for them and the work they do.”
In addition to cleaning, crews replenish Covid-19 safety kits throughout campus, which include disinfectant sprays and wipes. They also maintain the more than 100 extra hand-sanitizing stations that were installed around campus at the beginning of the fall semester.
“President Pierson released guidelines and protocols regarding Covid-19 for the University and we quickly followed suit,” said Overstreet, adding that all of his employees have received the most up-to-date safety training. “We’ve developed habits that help us feel more comfortable with what we do in keeping the entire campus safe and healthy. I can’t brag enough about them.”
Overstreet said there are two cleaning crews on campus, one that works during daylight hours and another that works after hours. Between them, they keep the campus deep-cleaned and supplies on hand for those who need them, so there is no lapse in meeting all safety protocols.
“The Physical Plant does tremendous work on campus,” said Jessica Kilby, vice president for Administration and Finance at ECU. “They have continued without missing a step while picking up the extra duties of keeping the University safe during the pandemic. The opportunity to get to work with such a great group of employees who put our students first is truly humbling.”
Cutline: ECU Physical Plant employees Kelly Low, left, and Roberta Armstrong pause by one of the many hand-sanitizing stations they maintain around campus. (Galen Hawes)