What’s changed most about Tiffany Teasley’s job since the pandemic hit? Now, suiting up like a character in a futuristic sci-fi film to disinfect a room touched by COVID-19 is just part of a day’s work.
Wielding her canister of the green cleaner Bioesque, Teasley and her team thoroughly spray rooms or auditoriums where COVID-19 has been reported, making them safe to re-enter almost immediately (though usually folks don’t return to the room until the next day). As a building services lead covering Molecular Medicine, FMD Grounds Building, the CCRC and Campus Transit, Teasley and the six people she supervises also have been busy keeping sanitizing stations well stocked with towels and plant-based cleaners for anyone who has the urge to wipe down door knobs or equipment. (Building Services has been committed to its Green Cleaning Program since 2005.)
Teasley, who came to UGA as a 23-year-old new custodian at the then also-new Miller Learning Center, takes it in stride. “Our job is to clean and sanitize and make sure everyone is good, and since COVID, we’ve just buckled down even more,” said Teasley.
The extra precautions have become routine. “At first everyone was kind of on edge, but it’s gotten easier. Everyone’s gotten more comfortable,” said Teasley. She credits her staff and leadership for making her job feel safe. “Although we’re in the middle of a pandemic, I am confident knowing that we’re taken care of. From the leadership in my department to President Morehead, they have gone above and beyond to make sure that we have everything we need.”
Teasley is an extraordinarily joyful person who loves interacting with the people she sees as she goes about her job. “Who’s got time to be sad and down?” she said, laughing. “If my attitude can brighten someone’s day or someone can brighten mine, that’s all that matters, because we’re all just trying to get through the day. Our mental health is being tested these days.”
The extra precautions and hazmat suits aren’t bothering her much, but she is ready for a time when we can go back to normal. “It’s so different now. There are no hugs or anything like that. You can’t even really get a handshake, you get a little bump,” she said. “We’re from the South. We’re used to being close and talking and talking to people we don’t know. I miss being able to just go up to a stranger and talk and see how their day is.
“I get it. I understand that this is important,” she said. “But I do long for the day where I don’t have to look at people that I don’t know like they’re contaminated. I look forward to that day.”