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

We know how busy K-12 facility management can be. While there may have been fewer students and staff in your buildings lately due to COVID-19, we know you have been hard at work maintaining the buildings and grounds, with some new safety and cleaning protocols in place.  As the new year passes and more schools begin to open up buildings for in-person learning, you need to be sure your facilities are ready for hundreds of staff and students to come back and put every piece of our 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.

However, breaks are a perfect time for facility teams, custodians, and janitorial staff, and building engineers to blast the boombox and catch up on things that didn’t get done while students and teachers were in the building - 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 back up with occupants. We've highlighted a few of the most important tasks to complete before school is back in session below,  and don't forget to download the full back to school preparation checklist to use at your schools!

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.


1. Cleaning and Disinfection

Planning a thorough cleaning and disinfection strategy has never been more important than in a post COVID-19 world. Not only will you need to do a deep clean before students and staff return, but high-touch surfaces and spaces will need to be continuously disinfected on a regular schedule. Communication with parents, students, and staff is vital to ensuring everyone has peace of mind that school facilities are safe to use. 

  • Cleaning
    • Revise and review COVID-19 protocols with school leadership
    • Conduct deep clean and disinfection of all facilities and surfaces
    • Audit cleaning and disinfection schedules

2. HVAC Systems

Heating, ventilation, and cooling systems in your building ensure that its occupants are comfortable and safe. Whether you are dealing with hot or cold weather, your HVAC system is one of the most important assets in your schools 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
    • 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 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 of 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 could cost schools thousands of dollars if food were to go 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’s roof 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 on your buildings 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's new Asset Essential offering which provides the features and functionality you need for your schools at only 1.5¢ per square foot. This new self-implementation module includes remote one-on-one guidance from an AkitaBox expert so you can start experiencing savings with AkitaBox in days or weeks, not months.

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