Clean & Safe Schools for All

The crisis created by COVID-19 exposed the vast inequities in our educational system. One of the most urgent divides is in the cleaning and maintenance of our schools.

School workers who clean and maintain schools have struggled with staffing cuts and impossible workloads for years. Without clear cleaning and staffing standards and consistent funding, school districts have continued to make cuts and undervalue the importance of school cleanliness.

Schools in less affluent areas and students of color are most affected – impacting the learning and safety of our most vulnerable communities.

The pandemic has taught us that we need to do more to ensure that all students and staff have access to safe, sanitized and healthy campuses. We need to do more than just reopen with the same old problems: we need to do better.

A Call to Adopt Statewide Cleaning Standards

SEIU Local 99 members are urging legislators and the governor to support the health and safety of all students, staff and the school community by:

Adopting the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA) Tier 1 Standards as the goal for school facility cleanliness.

Ensuring K-14 districts work with frontline workers to establish clear protocols for evaluating the current level of cleanliness in schools and create plans for compliance with cleaning standards.

Implementing green cleaning to reduce levels of chemical hazards and protect students, staff and the environment.

Establishing a dedicated fund for the cleaning and maintenance of schools to ensure there is sufficient staff, supplies and equipment to meet school cleanliness standards.

Structural Inequities in Maintaining Clean, Safe, and Welcoming Schools

Schools have not invested enough in cleaning and maintenance to create a safe and welcoming environment, especially schools attended predominantly by lower-income Black and Brown students.


Schools that don’t meet minimum facility standards.

Source: Public Policy Institute of CA, 2020

Education Worker Voices

In the News

To ensure safe schools for all, we need statewide cleaning standards

Covid-19 put a spotlight on how this inconsistent approach and chronic underfunding can seriously impact the health and safety of school communities. In response to the crisis, increased funding for school maintenance was included in the state budget. For Los Angeles Unified, this means the new school year started with nearly 1,000 new custodians. It’s a good step forward, but funding is only temporary and staffing levels could drop again once the money runs out.”

California schools struggle to pay for ventilation upgrades, key to safely reopen campuses

“…research shows that well-ventilated, clean air can lessen the spread of the coronavirus as well as other contaminants, including wildfire smoke, dust and air pollution. Clean air can also improve students’ academic achievement, reduce absenteeism and boost health overall for students and staff, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Why Schools Should Be the Center of a Green New Deal

“A lot of us already had a lot of pollution and crime and all that going on at home in our neighborhoods. It would be a lot better if at least school was safe and comfortable.”

Key Dates

State legislators and the governor will decide on funding for cleaning standards and staffing levels. Here are key dates in the state budget process.

May 14
May 18
May – June
June 15
June 30

May 14

Governor Newsom announces a revised state budget proposal that includes his proposed funding for 2021-22, called the May Revise.

May 18

LAUSD votes on a resolution in support of state funding for school cleaning standards.

May – June

Legislative hearings. State legislators review the budget proposals. It’s our chance to contact legislators and make our voices heard before they vote on a final budget.

June 15

Deadline for CA legislature (Senate and Assembly) to pass the state budget.

June 30

Deadline for Governor Newsom to sign the budget.