Jasper Norwood
Together for Florida

They make UF student residence halls so clean after quarantine, they squeak.

There’s clean. And then there’s Jasper Norwood clean, a brand of immaculate cleanliness aimed at thwarting an invisible pathogen.

Norwood is the supervisor of a team of 11 custodial workers who scrub and clean the rooms in Riker Hall, a University of Florida residence hall, where students who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus are temporarily quarantined.

Norwood’s crew provides a deep cleaning to rooms when someone’s quarantine ends and the space becomes available for the next student. That’s on top of their normal responsibilities of cleaning common areas like bathrooms and lounges in a group of five residence buildings: Riker, East, North, Weaver and Tolbert halls.

It’s demanding work, largely unheralded and unsung, that nonetheless is an important cog in the machinery of disease prevention that is helping stop the progression of coronavirus infection at UF.

“It’s our job to make sure students are safe and to make sure their parents don’t have to worry about their child while they’re at UF,” said Norwood. “I can’t speak for wherever else they go. But I know when they’re here in our residence halls, we’ve done and do everything we can to make their health our top priority.”

It takes up to 45 minutes to clean the quarantine rooms in Riker Hall. It starts with a thorough electrostatic fogging that sprays a disinfectant mist onto surfaces. An electrode gives the spray a positive charge, so the disinfectant clings to surfaces, making for a nice, uniform application that coats even the hardest-to-reach nooks.

Then the wiping and scrubbing begin. All surfaces that a student could possibly have touched, and some they probably haven’t, gets a rigorous scouring with disinfectant. The cleaning is done methodically. There is no rushing through the motions.

“I give a lot of credit to my staff,” Norwood said. “They do an amazing job.”

Custodians must wear personal protective equipment, including gloves and masks, to keep the coronavirus at bay.

It speaks to the caution that Norwood’s staff exhibits, and the fact that coronavirus transmission can be minimized, that no member of his staff has tested positive.

“We’re doing our part to make sure that we’re protecting ourselves and protecting students,” he said.

Norwood and his team take great pride in their work.

“We’re doing everything from our end to make sure the students are as protected as possible,” he said. “They and their parents don’t have to worry about anything not being clean.”

By Bill Levesque