KX Gives Back: Washburn Public School custodians thankful their job has given them a ‘second family’

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Once a month, KX Gives Back highlights those who are dedicated to serving the community. This month, we met a group of custodians who spend the majority of their time in a school.

Washburn Public School has five full-time custodians and several temps whose job is to ensure the school is safe and clean for people walking through the halls.

“During the school days and stuff, I’m usually here at 5, 6 o’clock in the morning. We go around and make sure everything’s ready to go. I have another person that does the locker room, makes sure the offices are clean, everything is working, lights on. Go outside…do a few odds and ins there, make sure the grass is mowed before the kids come in, and make sure everything is taken care of,” explained Kip Erickson, the head of maintenance for Washburn Public School.

Since the pandemic, the job of a custodial staff has been taken up a notch as more tasks were added to their checklist — with one goal, preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

“We sanitize the lockers and walls and stuff early in the mornings, twice a day, wipe tables down quite a bit. The classrooms and the bathrooms went on different times, custodial staff comes in made sure they were clean and taken care of twice a day,” explained Erickson.

But to Erickson and Pat Nelson, a full-time custodian, say there’s more to it than just cleaning. To them, it’s the interaction with students that makes it worth it.

“There’s a few of them that go out of their way to make sure they say hi to me every day and that just makes my job a whole lot better because that’s what I’m here for too,” shared Nelson.

The school has become a second home for these staff who say everyone has become their family over the years.

“I was gone for about a week and a half and when I came back I had all these teachers and kids just swarming around me saying we’re glad you’re back,” shared Nelson.

“This is probably going to be my last year. So I’ll probably be retiring at the end of this school year. I’ll have 24 years and that will be enough,” shared Erickson.

The staff say they begin preparing for the next school year as soon as summer break begins.

As part of KX Gives Back, the staff was given lunch on us for all their hard work and dedication.

Reporter Nikiya Carrero had the opportunity to sit with the crew and learn about each and every one of them and why they love their community.

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