Jeanette Sims has worked as a CPS custodian for 17 years. While many Chicagoans stay home, she’s one of the thousands of front line Chicago Public School custodians who are cleaning our schools. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, she and her coworkers were sent from school to school to clean, but now she’s back at Kelvyn Park High.
Custodians are wiping down everything high and low, from the keyboards to the desks to the window sills to the bathrooms. She approaches cleaning her school the way she cleans her house – “You want your home to be clean, and we want our schools to be clean too.” Custodians are wearing masks as they deep clean, not just to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but because a few of the chemicals they use are so strong “they can make you choke” without one.
For Jeanette, keeping schools clean is personal; her grandchildren are CPS students themselves. While she and her coworkers are nervous about COVID-19, they want to make sure schools are clean and safe for when students and teachers come back. The one thing she would like? “We work hard, and we love what we do. But sometimes we’d like a thank you, that’s all. We’ve giving it our best, and even when this is all over, we’ll be back on the front lines at our schools.”