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The K-12 Facility Maintenance Checklist for Back to School 2021

While there may have been fewer students and staff in your buildings over the past year and half, you’ve still been hard at work maintaining the buildings and grounds, and possibly with some new safety and cleaning protocols in place. 

You need to be sure your facilities are ready for staff and students to come back and put every area of your buildings through the wringer. Once school is back in session, it’s easy to fall into a reactive maintenance mode when you’re stuck playing catch-up, especially if you don’t know what you’re working with.

Get School Facilities Ready for the Year

The good news is that there’s still time for facility teams, custodians, janitorial staff, and building engineers to blast the boombox and catch up on tasks before students and staff return - and to put something proactive in place. Being proactive isn't a pipe dream --  we’ve got your back. 

We’ve put together a back-to-school facility management checklist to help you identify what should be inspected and serviced prior to your classrooms filling with occupants. We've highlighted a few of the most important tasks to complete before school is back in session, and don't forget to download the full Back to School Preparation Checklist!

While reading through our checklist and ticking off your tasks, remember this: Inspecting, servicing, and maintaining your facilities is just one part of the proactive puzzle. Implementing a robust facility and asset management software solution to easily organize this data is integral to keeping schools safe, healthy, and comfortable for years to come. Even the smallest of schools and school districts can benefit from capturing the data that will set them up for a better future. 

1. Cleaning and Disinfection

Planning a thorough cleaning and disinfecting strategy has never been more important. Not only will you need to do a deep clean before students and staff return, you’ll need to continuously disinfect high-touch surfaces and spaces on a regular schedule. It’s also vital that you communicate to parents, students, and staff to ensure everyone has peace of mind that school facilities are safe to use. 

  • Cleaning
    • Conduct deep clean and disinfection of all facilities and surfaces

    • Audit cleaning and disinfection schedules

    • Revise and review COVID-19 protocols with school leadership

2. HVAC Systems

Heating, ventilation, and cooling systems in your building ensure that occupants are comfortable and safe. Ventilation has received particular attention as we head into the school year. Whether you’re dealing with hot or cold weather, your HVAC system is one of the most important assets in your school facilities and should be treated with care.

  • Boiler

    • Implement daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly maintenance schedules for the system (this can easily be done using Facility Management Software)

    • Conduct visual inspection for leaks, rust, corrosion, water pressure inaccuracies, and alarm system functionality

    • Schedule a yearly inspection from a manufacturer or contractor

  • Exhaust Fans and Vents

    • Conduct visual inspection for loose belts, nuts, bolts, and bearings

    • Listen for any abnormal sounds that could come from loose parts

    • Clean shafts to make sure airflow is not restricted

    • Check and replace filters where needed, as well as scheduling regular filter checks

    • Schedule a yearly inspection from the manufacturer or a contractor

  • Air Conditioners

    • Conduct visual inspection for damage and debris near vents or condenser fans

    • Schedule a yearly inspection to check refrigerant levels and motor function

    • Clean or replace filters, coils, or fins

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3. Safety and Alarm Systems

Having a proper safety system in place is integral to a safe and happy school facility. While safety assets should be maintained for proper functionality every year, it’s still important to put an actual safety plan in place in case something unexpected happens. This can be done through the use of digital documentation - from assets being tagged when inspected to updated escape routes to asset locations being shared with your staff.

  • Fire Alarm System

    • Test and calibrate flame and smoke sensors

    • Replace batteries or bulbs if applicable

    • Contact your fire department for testing

    • Contact your manufacturer for device-specific testing

  • Fire Extinguishers

    • Inventory types of fire extinguishers

    • Properly tag each extinguisher

    • Contact a contractor for visual and physical inspections

  • Exit Lights, Signage and Egress Plans

    • Test each light or signage asset for defects

    • Replace batteries or bulbs if applicable

    • Export updated Egress plans and safety asset locations from Facility Management Software to distribute among staff

Link to State of Facility Maintenance in K-12 Schools 2021

4. Plumbing Fixtures and Systems 

The plumbing system worked last school year, so it must be fine this year, right? Not necessarily. Assets that have been sitting without being used by dozens of staff and students run the risk of developing problems. It’s important to dust off the cobwebs before your plumbing system gets kicked back into high gear once your building population spikes.

  • Water Heaters

    • Conduct a visual inspection for leaks, proper readings on gauges, and correct water temperatures
    • Schedule a yearly inspection with the manufacturer or a contractor
  • Sinks, Showers, and Toilets

    • Check for leaks and proper drainage
    • Test water pressure
    • Ensure assets are tightened, caulked, sealed, and properly tiled

5. Kitchen Assets

If you ask most students what their favorite class is, you’ll likely hear “lunch!” And although lunch isn’t a class per-se, students depend on quality meals delivered by kitchen staff throughout the year. 

Have you inspected your food storage units lately? Fridges and freezers provide a safe storage environment for large amounts of fresh food. Malfunctioning food storage units cost schools thousands of dollars if food goes bad due to leaks, lack of security, or temperature gauge failure.

  • Fridges and Freezers

    • Inspect doors, hinges, and seals for leaks.

    • Check drains for blockages

    • Test temperature and alarm systems if applicable

    • Schedule a yearly inspection from the manufacturer or a contractor

6. Roof Inspections

Roofs can be an easy thing for maintenance teams to forget, but can quickly become a costly problem if left out of a preventative maintenance plan. When you have nice weather, take the time to analyze your building roofs and mechanical assets. This will also give you an early heads up to any major damage or structural issues that may need to be addressed, ensuring a safe environment for staff and students throughout the rest of the school year.

  • Roofs

    • Inspect all mechanical roof assets and make sure they are recorded and tagged within your asset management software

    • Schedule a roof inspection up to two times per year (especially before and after winter)

    • Consider using automated technology -- like a drone -- for dangerous, high-up places that you may not have easy access to 

Through proper preparation and the right software, you can take the stress out of back-to-school time. Still looking for that software that meets your needs at a price you can afford? Check out AkitaBox Essentials, providing the features and functionality you need for your schools at an affordable cost per square foot. The new self-implementation module also includes remote one-on-one guidance from an AkitaBox expert so you can start experiencing savings with AkitaBox in as soon as a week.

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