Impact on Learning

Elmhurst Community USD 205

Project Snapshot

PROJECT: Green Schools Initiative
LOCATION: Elmhurst, Ill.
COMPANY NAME: ProTeam
WEBSITE: ProTeam.Emerson.com

ProTeam backpack vacuum used at Elmhurst Community USD

Cleaner air leads to a healthier school and a better place for students to learn. By giving their staff ProTeam backpack vacuums, Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 was able to ensure this was a reality for all students.

THE CHALLENGE

On Aug. 13, 2007, the Green Cleaning Schools Act became effective in the state of Illinois. The law required the use of environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products in all public and non-public elementary and secondary schools with 50 or more students. Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 sprung into action and became the first district in the state to achieve green cleaning Gold status with the Schools of Illinois Public Cooperative.

“We moved to microfiber, green chemicals, and dispensing systems,” says Jerry Christopherson, building manager for York High School and purchasing manager for the green schools initiative. “We work to create a healthy environment that is safer, not only for my staff, but also all the students and teachers and administration.”

But Elmhurst schools didn’t stop at complying with state law; they took it further. Over the last decade, the district’s eight elementary schools, three middle schools, one high school, and two additional locations have continued to transition to healthier and more efficient maintenance methods and products, most recently switching from upright vacuums to ProTeam® Super Coach Pro® backpack vacuums at the end of 2016.

THE SOLUTION

This latest initiative started when Christopherson and the other managers attended a ProTeam demonstration and were impressed. They learned that according to ISSA Cleaning Times backpack vacuums clean two to three times faster than upright vacuums. Christopherson also realized that upright vacuums put asymmetrical stress on one arm causing strain and fatigue after several hours of vacuuming.

He enlisted the help of ProTeam representatives when rolling the backpack vacuums out to his staff. At first, the staff hesitated.

“They thought the backpack vacuum would be heavy, and, actually, it isn’t. They thought it would be more work, and it turned out to be easier work,” says Christopherson.

The staff started by using the backpack vacuums in the same areas that they used uprights, on carpeting in offices, resource centers and libraries. Then they applied them to some detail cleaning and began vacuuming stairways where brooms had been kicking up as much dust into the air as they were able to capture in dustpans.

IMPACT ON LEARNING

Capturing more dirt and dust leads to cleaner air. Cleaner air leads to healthier students and fewer sick days. A cleaner school is always a better place to learn and ProTeam’s Super Coach Pro is a critical tool for those who keep learning environments green on a daily basis.

Editor’s Review

The U.S. EPA’s 2010 study, entitled “How does Indoor Air Quality Impact Student Health and Academic Performance?” states, “Substandard environmental conditions in schools, such as insufficient cleaning or inadequate ventilation, can cause serious health problems for children.” It goes on to say that air quality also directly impacts student academic performance. This project is an example of providing a better learning environment where students feel safe and confident that their school is providing them with a healthy environment. Not only does this mean that students and teachers need to take less sick days, but the more relaxed, healthy attitude allows them to dedicate their full attention to teaching and learning.

This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.

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