As a facility manager at a college or university, you've always looked after school infrastructure, services, and long-term capital planning while also juggling daily emergencies. But with COVID and students returning to campuses, everything is about to get even harder.
How can you make sure your team's prepared?
You now need to implement new facility management protocols, upgrade building systems, and work with multiple vendors to keep buildings clean and safe.
A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can help you manage it all from a single platform.
Here are three ways it can help you reopen your school safely.
Manage new school health and safety protocols
Nearly 30% of parents say the pandemic impacted their child’s emotional or mental health, and 66% of school-age children are anxious about going back to school, according to Campus Safety Magazine.
As a school facility manager, you play an important role in easing those concerns.
The Clery Act now requires institutions of higher learning to notify students of necessary health and safety precautions related to COVID-19.
Complying with these standards requires careful planning and documentation.
One of the first steps you need to take before reopening is updating protocols around how students use buildings. That means reconfiguring desks, closing off small common areas to avoid having too many people gathering in them, and modifying the flow of traffic. If you have 25 buildings, you’ll need to make all these updates in each of them.
Keeping track of all these separate action items is much easier with facility management software. You can develop standard work order templates for reopening buildings, copy the same list for each one, and assign the work orders to your school facilities management team. Each team member receives a notification of the new work order in their facilities management app. They can also easily get instructions on how to complete the work. When they’re done, they simply mark it complete. This gives you full visibility into how your team is working together to keep students safe.
You can also track safety protocols, including emergency management, evacuation plans, and security requirements that have expanded since the Higher Education Act of 1965.
Before reopening, you also need to make sure you have plenty of supplies to help students and faculty protect themselves, including masks, hand sanitizer, and wipes as well as signs reminding students to maintain a safe distance between themselves and others.
The best facility management software includes an inventory management system that tracks supplies and updates automatically each time you re-order, ensuring you never run out of essential supplies and reducing waste.
Ensure school facilities are up to date with preventive maintenance
A poorly ventilated classroom is a serious health hazard, especially in the midst of an airborne virus. As schools reopen following the pandemic, many facilities managers are upgrading their HVAC and ventilation systems to ensure they meet new, higher standards.
Other health hazards could be lurking in your building, including:
- Poor water quality from outdated plumbing systems, excessive use of chemicals, high lead levels, and other environmental factors
- Poor light quality from aging light fixtures and burnt-out bulbs, which contributes to eye strain and headaches
- Asbestos inside walls, floors, and ceiling tiles, which can cause breathing problems, cough, chest pain, and other symptoms unless it’s removed safely
- Lead, which is common in buildings constructed before 1978 and can cause damage to internal organs if students breathe it in as it chips or peels
The pandemic added urgency to many schools’ deferred maintenance backlogs, increasing the pressure for facilities managers to fix these long standing issues.
With a facility maintenance software, you can easily schedule and track preventive maintenance so you can address building and infrastructure issues in a timely manner. Using a facility maintenance software for preventive maintenance also makes it easier to justify capital expenses. You can see the maintenance history for every asset and the costs of parts and labor so you’ll know exactly how much it’s costing you to keep older buildings or equipment running.
Your school administrators may decide it’s more cost-effective to replace it instead of continuing to repair it.
Managing third-party vendors and work orders
More than half of the total facilities management market consists of outsourced activities, according to a McKinsey report. That number is likely to increase as schools and universities face greater expectations for cleanliness and student services. After many students began learning remotely during the past year, they are now looking for the on-campus experience to offer more value.
They also expect schools to disinfect shared surfaces more frequently to reduce the spread of viruses and germs.
Your school likely already relies on vendors for food services, plumbing, electrical work, lawn care maintenance, and other essential facility management responsibilities.
Keeping track of contracts, deadlines, availability, job progress, and payments for everyone can take up a significant portion of your time each week.
Communicating updates or last-minute requests can also be difficult. Fortunately, it’s much easier with facility management software. You can store contact information, contracts, invoices, and more and search for those documents anytime and anywhere. You can create work orders and assign them directly to the appropriate vendor, then receive notifications when the vendor closes out the task. If the vendor uses several parts to complete the work, your inventory management system will automatically reflect those changes.
Why facility management software is a smart choice for schools
The best facility management software systems make it easy to track work orders, preventive maintenance, inventory and vendors. They improve the uptime and life of your school’s assets while keeping your students and faculty safe.
Hippo CMMS software is a cloud-based, mobile system that’s just as easy to use as it is to implement. With preventive maintenance, inventory management, vendor management, work orders, and facility management KPIs all in one place, your entire FM team will have full visibility into the work they need to do to reopen your school.
Ready to learn more?