“When I work I think of my son and all the parents dropping their kids off at school. I want to make sure the students have a clean and safe environment to learn,” says Andrea Quiroga, a Building & Grounds Worker at Santee Education Complex.

Andrea has been a building & grounds, custodial worker, with LAUSD for six years now. She says she understands how important being an essential worker during the pandemic is to the health and safety of students and the community. But it has added extra tasks to her day and caused more stress.

“We have to record logs of the areas we clean, sign a lot of papers, test new chemicals. It’s all-new. It is a new thing I’m still learning.”

Andrea’s workday starts at 6:00 am, cleaning the basement where her colleague’s park and ends at 2:30 pm, helping out the school facilities attendants, cleaning the school restrooms, and any additional cleaning that needs to get done inside of the school.

“We do a really good job, but it is a lot of work, “says Andrea. Especially now that we have to make sure everything is being cleaned once an hour.”

All high touch surface areas throughout the school must be disinfected and cleaned. These surfaces include doorknobs, light switches, tables, toilet handles, sinks, etc.

Although she is aware of what it will take to keep students, faculty, and herself safe from the deadly virus, not having enough help throughout the day worries her.

“These are the kids in my community. I grew up here too. I want to make sure that if I’m working here, they’re safe, and they have everything cleaned for them… they deserve it.”

Andrea considers her team lucky for having all the tools and supplies they need to get their work done, but she believes an extra shift in the middle of the day would be helpful.

“I think about how more hands-on-deck would help a lot for the night and the daytime because we would get more people doing more things at the same time.”

Keeping a 13.4-acre lot in South Los Angeles sanitary and clean for students does not come easy, “There’s a lot that we have to do, not just inside of the school, but also outside of the school.”

Throughout the pandemic, she has been cleaning up after homeless people who live down the street from the school. “There’s been piled up broken glass, graffiti covering the walls, and holes from intruders trying to break into the school. We are the ones cleaning this stuff up,” she said.

Andrea is just one of many custodians who understand the importance of their role in this transition back to school and the importance of a clean and safe learning environment.

“These are the kids in my community. I grew up here too. I want to make sure that if I’m working here, they’re safe, and they have everything cleaned for them… they deserve it.”

Here is a look at Santee Education Complex. The maintenance of the school building is an important factor in the delivery of education.    (Photos by FilmLA)