The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has remained consistent in its maintenance of the parking garages during the outbreak of COVID-19.
Parking and Transit Services is a self-funded department that is responsible for the operating and maintenance of all parking facilities, including the parking garages, according to Daniel Carpenter, director of Parking and Transit Services.
Custodial workers have increased interior cleaning to weekly, and also perform walkthroughs several times a week to keep up with the maintenance of the parking garages.
They also continue to follow the established university cleaning procedures, which include cleaning and disinfecting high use areas and touchpoints, according to Carpenter.
Megan Richter has been a custodian at the university for over three years, and has had to adapt to the changes to cleaning services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the university is doing a good job,” Richter said. “As far as I know, the custodians are still here because there still is a lot that needs to be done even when there weren’t classes.”
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, there have been plenty of ups and downs that have affected the custodial services, Richter said.
“Early on with the pandemic, where everyone was still learning about it, there were very frequent changes. We might get told one thing one week and then the next week it would be something different,” Richter said. “However, we have been able to keep working through the pandemic. A lot of people haven’t been that lucky, and have lost their jobs, but we haven’t had that issue.”
Like many departments, the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on the Parking and Transit Services’ budget, and the department continues to monitor its expenses to make sure operating maintenance and debt service obligations are covered.
“The parking structures are important buildings, but with reduced in-person classroom density they do not have the same occupancy as academic buildings or the unions,” Carpenter said in an email. “We are currently averaging 24% occupancy for commuters.”
Before the pandemic, the department was in the process of hiring two maintenance positions that performed routine garage cleanings, according to Carpenter. One position would clean interior lobbies, elevators and stairwells. The other would take care of the external parking areas.
However, amid the pandemic, Parking and Transit Services decided to outsource the positions to the UNL Custodial Services and the Parking and Transit Services’ existing operation staff.
Despite setbacks, Parking and Transit Services and Custodial Services have continued to push for the safety of students and faculty in the parking garages.
“It hasn’t been necessarily harder, but just different,” Carpenter said.