Cleaning and Disinfecting

Cleaning and Disinfecting

In addition to enhanced cleaning, Facilities and Operations has implemented several changes to improve health and safety on campus, including:

  • Converting restroom fixtures to operate automatically. Starting with research-focused buildings, new touchless faucets and flushometers are being installed where possible to improve restroom hygiene.
  • Installing hand sanitizer stations in campus buildings. Sanitizing dispensers are located in main entrance lobbies, and the number of stations will be increased for all campus buildings.
  • Increasing steam cleaning of restrooms. Steam cleaning of restrooms disinfects without chemicals, using heat from steam to disinfect and kill germs. The frequency of this process is increasing to once per week compared to monthly pre-COVID-19. This process is an enhancement to CDC and New York State Department of Health guidelines.
  • Augmenting cleaning supplies. Supplies in use are rated to disinfect SARS-COV-2 virus.

How Are Buildings Being Cleaned

The COVID-19 custodial plan focuses on enhanced cleaning and disinfecting. Columbia Operations uses Genefect to disinfect high-touch surfaces. Genefect is EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19. Starting with the existing base cleaning plan, new tasks were added, and the frequency of existing tasks was increased. The new plan meets—and in some areas exceeds—newly issued standards from the CDC, New York State Department of Health, and OSHA.

  • Disinfecting high-touch campus public spaces twice daily, surpassing CDC guidelines. High-touch public spaces include doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails, light switches, bathroom and locker room fixtures, public phones, and water fountains. Chairs, tables, and computers in public spaces are not maintained by Facilities and Operations. High-touch areas were cleaned once daily prior to COVID-19
  • Electrostatic cleaning in classrooms and public spaces. This process, generally performed weekly except where noted, is an enhancement to CDC and NYS Department of Health guidelines. The spray contains positively charged particles that aggressively adhere to surfaces and objects allowing the applicator to increase coverage significantly
  • Increasing classroom cleaning and disinfecting to twice daily, including tables, podium/lectern areas, floors, chair armrests, door handles and glass, blackboards, erasers and chalk trays, and emptying recycling and trash
  • Fogging and disinfecting in the gym and auditoriums. This process is an effective way to disinfect large, open areas and is an enhancement to CDC and NYS Department of Health guidelines. Fogging generates an aerosol that uses evaporation to quickly disperse disinfecting vapor throughout large spaces. Fogging was not performed at the University prior to COVID-19
  • Additional  inspection of public spaces in all campus buildings. Inspection frequency will be increased to twice daily in lobbies and restrooms, and will include checking and refilling hand sanitizer, soap dispensers, and paper towel and toilet paper dispensers. This was performed once daily prior to COVID-19

How To Clean and Disinfect Your Work Area

Beginning with research labs, as Columbia faculty, post-docs, students, and staff return to campus, individuals will be asked to clean and disinfect surfaces as they use them. This will include wiping down and cleaning:  

  • User’s own keyboard, phone, or other office equipment
  • Touch points in teaching labs and classrooms (between classes)
  • Copier and printer surfaces in shared areas
  • Appliances in office kitchens and break rooms
  • Desktops in library, study area, or other rooms

Wear disposable gloves to clean and disinfect surfaces. Soap and water can be used to clean surfaces to reduce the number of germs, dirt, and impurities. To disinfect a surface, use an EPA-registered disinfectant and follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product.

Please refer to the Central Purchasing website for information on obtaining face masks and cleaning supplies and products.   

Disinfecting an Area Exposed to COVID-19

If someone is confirmed to have COVID-19, close off the area used by that person and notify Facilities and Operations at 212-854-2222. If responsible parties can close off affected areas, they do not necessarily need to close operations. Upon notification, Facilities and Operations will retain a vendor to conduct specialized cleaning to disinfect the area exposed to COVID-19. The specialized cleaning is only required in instances of confirmed cases of COVID-19.