How to Get Kids Back in School Safely & Healthier Than Ever

By Jameka Carter

As schools start to reopen, the health and safety of the children have become a top priority. Many schools are starting back up virtually, but plan to bring students back into buildings soon. However, parents are concerned about sending their children to school during a pandemic and want to know what changes will be made to ensure their safety. Teaching kids about healthy habits starts at home, but it doesn’t have to end there. Schools play an important role in educating students as well. By promoting good hygiene, providing hand washing programs and installing proper cleaning supplies, schools can educate and equip children for healthier habits.

Schools must prove they are doing everything they can to keep students safe and healthy while in their care.

40% of parents worry their children will suffer from a lack of hygiene at school. Their parental concerns are based on their children’s experience. 86% of school children avoid using the toilets at school, and nearly half of all parents point to unhygienic conditions at the cause. As the old saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.” Schools must prove they are doing everything they can to keep students safe and healthy while in their care. By insisting that school bathrooms and individual classrooms be properly cleaned and sufficiently supplied with soap, paper towels, and hand sanitizer, parents can allay their children’s fears, reduce health-related absenteeism, and create a more relaxed, confident and productive learning environment.

People are aware that handwashing is important, but they don’t make it a habit. It’s time to start teaching students how to wash their hands. Fortunately, teaching handwashing isn’t something schools need to take on alone. There are many programs to help educate children about hand hygiene, from Global Handwashing Day to handwashing programs pointed out by the Center for Disease Control.

Fewer illnesses mean fewer trips to the doctor, less use of antibiotics, and more time in class.

Handwashing can reduce illnesses and keep kids in school. A recent study shows that kindergartners and first graders in the U.S. are chronically absent more than 10% of days within a school year. The report goes on to say that “students who are chronically absent in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade are much less likely to read at a grade level by third grade – which makes them four times more likely to drop out of school.” When children are taught how to properly wash their hands, fewer illnesses will occur. Fewer illnesses mean fewer trips to the doctor, less use of antibiotics, and more time in class.

Imperial Dade offers quality hand hygiene and restroom supplies from top manufactures including Essity, creators of this infographic available for download. Contact your Imperial Dade Representative today for a restroom site survey and product recommendations. Visit http://www.ImperialDade.com for a location near you.

Hiring, Training & Rewarding Employees During COVID-19 (and Beyond)

A discussion with 3 industry leaders

By Vickie Holland

We recently had a round robin discussion with three Jan-San industry leaders. We asked them to weigh in on hiring, training and rewarding employees. We also asked how COVID-19 is changing these processes. Not surprisingly, there was some interesting overlap on the responses. The comments below have been lightly edited for clarity.

What changes are needed in your hiring process during COVID-19

Joseph Patrick Gaither (JPG):  Prior to the outbreak we had been moving to a paperless process and other than the in-person interview had successfully transitioned the process to be online. Moving forward we will conduct all interviews online. Although we feel that you lose some of the personal touch with this approach it is necessary to ensure the safety of our staff.

Melissa Usher (MU):  Arthur Jackson had to make a quick transition in becoming more remote and electronically accessible to our new incoming talent. Pre-COVID, our corporate recruiter would partner with management to hold in-person interviews either at the corporate office or in our client buildings. We would facilitate at least 2 large in-person new hire orientations at the corporate office. We no longer hold new hire orientation in-person. We had to move our interview process to over the phone or Zoom calls. New hire orientation paperwork has moved to DocuSign.

Judy David (JD) We are currently in a hiring freeze.  If we do get permission to hire, we will do screenings online, but in-person interviews will be with just a couple of people, as opposed to the panel style we typically use.   We’ll have to social distance and wear masks throughout.  We’ll also try to make it as paperless as possible. Right now, my focus is more on delivering the necessary disinfection with our current staff.

What are the 3 traits you look for when hiring new custodians?

JD: Some important traits to look for include strong work ethic, dependability, positive attitude and willingness to learn.

JPG: The three traits I value most are #1-Dependability: sustained employment, the ability to maintain professional employment, #2 Work ethic: understanding why we are all here- this is usually a topic of discussion during the work history conversation and #3- Genuine: someone that is honest or sincere. Nobody in our profession is perfect. I look for a staff member that can recognize an issue and engage in problem solving or solutions. But that won’t happen unless we can recognize issues and have that dialogue. I prefer a candidate that is genuine and not constantly trying to sell themselves.

MU: The traits we look for in any new custodian would be attitude/personality, work ethic and work history.

How do you keep your employees motivated?

MU: Motivation starts with the manager or supervisor at the work site. They get to know each of their employees and what makes them tick. They empower their employees by allowing them to have responsibility and flexibility over their day to day tasks. Our managers reward a job well done with pizza parties (as one example). 

JD: I have been known to sometimes dress in costume to motivate our team. I try to make it fun, no pride! Food is also a great motivator! Team breakfasts are great. I had a past program where I hid a note in an area to be cleaned. First custodian to find the note won “Lunch with Judy”. I loved this reward because I was able to sit down and have a quiet one on one chat with an employee and really get to know them. Handwritten thank you notes go a long way. We also like to reward and recognize employees with a leadership position.

JPG: Positive reinforcement! If you don’t recognize the behavior you want, you will get the behavior you recognize. We also do a lot of little things throughout the course of the year to celebrate milestones or recognize a job well done with lunches or water ice in the summer. Honestly the best practice is to be approachable and accessible to the staff, every day. When you walk the buildings always recognize your team members, compliment their work, thank them for showing up every day and doing a good job. Take 2 minutes out of your day to talk with them and see how they are doing, that small recognition and appreciation really goes a long way.

Any suggestions for Employee Safety during COVID-19?

MU: Be mindful of your PPE (do not wear your mask below your nose or on your chin), keep up on your hand washing hygiene, keep your distance, if sick, stay home. We are so focused on COVID that many employees are forgetting their other safety training. I highly recommend sending out safety tips and self-care reminders to your managers and front-line employees.

JPG:  We have been preaching universal precautions since the beginning of the outbreak. A great deal of the information related to the pandemic has been fluid, so early on we tried to prepare with an overabundance of caution. The advice I give to our staff is to treat their PPE as an essential tool necessary to perform their job, like a broom or a microfiber rag. PPE has always been essential to our organization, but in the last six months there is a greater focus and expectation from our employees and customers that we have been engaged in almost daily.

JD:  Wear your masks, don’t touch your face and wash your hands.  Wash them every time you take your gloves off.  Wash them before you take a break.  Wash them at the end of your shift.  Wash them because you pass a sink.  Universal precautions are as important now as ever.  If we don’t stay healthy, how can we keep everyone else healthy?  Also, did I mention you should wash your hands?

Imperial Dade offers free training programs to customers. Contact your Imperial Dade Sales Consultant or visit http://www.imperialdade.com for a location near you.

8 Not-So-Scary Advantages of Ghost Kitchens

This may be the ideal time to open a new food concept!

By Laura Craven

Imagine you’ve always dreamed of opening a restaurant but the massive investment in the physical location, equipment, furniture, décor, labor, etc. was prohibitive. And, the time needed to build or remodel the space, develop the menu, train staff, pass inspections, and create a marketing campaign could take several months or even a year.

What if you could rent a turnkey commercial kitchen space for 10% or less of the initial cost to rent a traditional restaurant and hit the ground running within a matter of weeks? Impossible you say? Not if you use a ghost kitchen.

What is a ghost kitchen? Also known as “cloud”, “dark”, “delivery”, or “virtual”, ghost kitchens operate without the traditional front-of-house dining room and customer-facing store front. These shared foodservice hubs have been around for several years, arriving on the scene as delivery orders grew in popularity. Today, with dining rooms closed or restricted and more consumers adopting delivered meals, commercial kitchens designed for off-premise sales could be the answer for restauranteurs, both experienced and inspired newcomers.

The advantages of using ghost kitchens, in addition to the fractional rent, may include:

  • Strategically located in areas near many hungry customers
  • Parking and check-in stations for delivery drivers
  • Tech enabled facilities to support online ordering and status communications
  • Co-op purchasing opportunities
  • Marketing partnerships with third-party delivery services
  • Cleaning/sanitation services and HACCP support
  • Flexible leasing arrangements
  • Ability to change concepts with the seasons

A successful “virtual restaurant” still requires great food, hard work, and the ability to stand out in a crowded marketplace, but the barrier to entry is much lower.

Tips for a delivery-only model:

  • Streamline your menu for speed and off-premise quality
  • Offer unique menu items tailored for the demographics in your delivery area
  • Use the right technology application and data analytics for your business model
  • Price your offerings with applicable expenses in mind such as delivery fees
  • Use high-quality packaging to preserve temperature, texture, and appearance
  • Use tamper-evident bags and wrapped cutlery/napkin kits to ensure safety
Download the Off-Premise Packaging Guide

Today’s convenience-culture consumers are willing to pay more for having restaurant-quality food delivered. If you are interested in making your dream a reality, visit www.thekitchendoor.com for a list of ghost kitchens in your area. For a complimentary consultation on off-premise packaging, contact the experts at Imperial Dade. Visit www.ImperialDade.com for a location near you.