While Illinois State employees have been working remotely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Illinois State building service workers (BSWs) have been on campus every day, protecting students, faculty, and staff with around-the-clock cleaning.

Meet two BSWs who have been an integral part of keeping Illinois State up and running during this difficult time. 

Susana Correa

Susana Correa is a newly promoted foreman. For 15 years she worked as a BSW and knows the ins and outs of the job. Her duties include making sure University facilities are clean and keeping the BSWs under her supervision safe and supported. One of the best ways to do that is by upgrading cleaning equipment and gear.

No stranger to face masks, gloves, or sanitizing wipes, Correa knew all about taking extra precautions in her line of duty. The big difference came in the form of, as Correa calls them, COVID kits. The new uniform consists of a protective coat, a hair cover, goggles, shoe coverings, and a sanitizing gun that kills germs twice as fast.

As a foreman, Correa works with her team during cleanups.

“I like suiting up just to make sure that I’m there for them. I tell my team all the time, they’re awesome and they do a great job.”

Correa knows the value her team adds to the University.

“I think they are heroes.”

Mac Cook

A BSW sanitizes an elevator call box.
BSW Mac Cook sanitizes an elevator call box in a campus building to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The pandemic has shown Mac Cook just how important his job is to the Redbird community.

Cook has worked a BSW for almost two years. He heard about the position through a friend and applied, not knowing just how essential he would be to the University. 

 “Us being here helps the students be here.”

Mac Cook

Before the pandemic, Cook would check in with his supervisor and be assigned a building to clean and get ready for the day. That all changed the last few months, however. Cook is now a part of a cleaning enhancement team, a group of six to eight BSWs who work in multiple buildings all over campus during their shifts. Instead of sanitizing just one building once a day, Cook cleans classrooms, restrooms, and high-risk touch areas at least twice a day, all while placing disinfectant wipes and physical-distancing stickers in every classroom.

 “Us being here helps the students be here. It’s a teamwork thing, and we all play a part in coming together to help the University and each other,” Cook said.

Although the pandemic has altered everyone’s way of life, Cook prefers to look on the bright side and appreciate the positives in a time of many negatives. 

“We’re seeing the interaction between students and us a lot more now, and it means a lot to know that people notice the work you’re doing. It makes it 10 times easier to come in here every day and deal with the ups and down when you know that you have students, faculty, and staff behind you that support what you are doing and appreciate what you are doing.”

Keep up with Illinois State University’s response to the coronavirus pandemic at Coronavirus.IllinoisState.edu.