The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Clearing out and cleaning up: Lafayette’s custodial staff contains norovirus outbreak


By Kathryn Kelly ’19

While students and faculty were encouraged to leave campus to avoid the spread of norovirus last week, Bob Zango stayed put. He had a job to do.

Zango is a custodian in McKeen Hall who has worked at Lafayette for about eight years. Last week, he and the rest of the custodial staff at Lafayette were called into action in a way that he said many of them had never seen before.

Zango compared the norovirus cleanup to the power outage after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which he described as “pretty wild.”

“But this was worse than anything I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” he said.

The contagiousness of the disease and the number of students that fell ill made the situation high-priority for the custodial staff.

“On Sunday, all the custodians were in here, more or less all hands on deck, making sure everything was sanitized before you guys came back and we’re still doing it now actually,” Zango said.

According to Zango and fellow Lafayette custodian Joe Jones who works in Gates Hall, cleaning crews were given Clorox bleach products, which they were directed to use on touchable surfaces, as opposed to the disinfectant products they normally use. This process of using bleach products began Thursday, March 10, according to the custodians.

“We were spraying everything, handles and everything touchable,” Jones said. “We let it sit for ten minutes, and then it dries and it protects from the norovirus.”

Custodian Mike Conover, who works in Skillman Library, said he has also never seen anything like the norovirus outbreak before during his time on campus. But his job, he said, did not change much.

“My job was to super-sanitize everything,” Conover said. “We did some stuff that we don’t always do every day, like when anybody got up from the computer we made sure to clean the keyboard. [There was] nothing out of the norm that I did, because I pretty much clean everything all the time [in Skillman].”

President Alison Byerly praised the custodians for the job they did sanitizing campus.

“Nobody can dispute the custodians had the toughest job around during this period,” Byerly said. “They were very prompt. Most of them worked very long hours, people took extra shifts, a number of custodians not surprisingly became ill. They really tried very hard to be everywhere that they could be.”

Zango said that Lafayette itself did a good job of getting the custodial staff the necessary supplies in an unexpected situation.

“You don’t really count on something like that happening, and when it did I think the school did as good a job as they could do to get us situated, and to get everybody doing what they had to do to try to contain it,” he said. “But on the cleaning end, at our end, they got us the products and got us what we needed to do what we had to do.”

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