NSW schools not given ‘enhanced’ clean for COVID-19
School cleaners say they do not have the time or disinfectant to protect children and teachers from coronavirus, despite Premier Gladys Berejiklian promising a $250 million fund to clean government buildings including schools.
"You may have received some advice around 'enhanced cleaning', but unfortunately Joss does not have the capability to fulfil the 'enhanced cleaning' scope that was to begin today, 18 March 2020," cleaning company Joss Contract manager Jenny Ryan told principals in an email.
At Epping Boys High School, where a Year 11 student tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month, desks are being wiped down with water and not disinfected, according to one of the school's cleaners.
The acting president of the Secondary Principals Council, Craig Petersen, said: "Every principal was expecting extra cleaning but school cleaners have not been told anything at all, so there has been a serious communication breakdown somewhere."
Even if cleaning companies hired new staff, they would have to wait up to four weeks for Working With Children checks.
It is hot and dangerous work against a deadly and invisible enemy.
For the cleaners who have transformed their usual hospital cleaning businesses to fight coronavirus, it is just another day in a new world where business has boomed tenfold.
Since COVID-19 was first detected in Australia on January 25, specialist cleaning contractor Stephen Reid said he has been responding to scores of emails each day from public institutions and businesses seeking out infection control services.
He has already been called out to "ground zero" twice - once to St Christopher's Catholic Primary School in the southwest Sydney suburb of Panania where a professional development officer tested positive and, last week, at an education facility in the west. The Sunday Telegraph was asked not to reveal the location of the facility where a worker was also confirmed as being infected.
"We already do hospital cleaning of clinical and surgical spaces so we were already dealing with infection control," Mr Reid said.
"When I saw them spraying bleach in the streets of China in hazmat suits, I thought 'there is something to this'."
Originally published as Public schools not given 'enhanced' clean for COVID-19