Our drone team has been busy

SSC is well-versed in the challenges facing education today, and we’re always looking for ways to enhance our services through technology. That’s where our drone team comes in.

Whether a school needs rooftop surveys, to assess storm damage or just wants a pretty picture of the new paint job on the football field, our drone team is here to help.

When James Amos, project manager at Tarleton State University in Texas, heard his regional director talking about potentially starting a drone technology program at his campus, he volunteered to be the main drone operator and pilot for Tarleton State and surrounding sites. SSC paid for James to complete training to obtain his FAA drone pilot certificate.

The drone has proven to be a great tool for many reasons.

“We can do roof inspections of our buildings, and we have thermal capability so we can see any hot or cold spots,” Amos said. “It’s so much easier to do our job using the drone.”

This not only benefits our services at SSC, but also the client.

“Being able to access hard-to-reach areas without renting expensive equipment and taking several hours to assess a rooftop area saves our clients thousands of dollars,” Amos said.

Amos enjoys working for SSC because of the opportunities he’s been given.

“To have a company put faith in you, to allow you to venture out to something that has a lot of up-front cost, and basically take a gamble on you – it’s been very rewarding and I’m really thankful to work for a company that gives me these opportunities,” he says.

The drone team has been busy.

On Oct. 21, 2019, Parker University in Dallas, Texas, was devastated by an F-3 tornado that completely shut down the university, impacting 15 buildings. Campus electrical was destroyed, poles and transformers were pulled out of the ground, and landscaping and exterior metal fencing was also damaged.

The next morning, SSC associates were directed to the campus to support recovery efforts in any way possible. With the drone team’s help, assessments began right away. SSC used the drone to scout the campus and locate damage.

Almost nobody believed it would be possible to have the university up and running within a week, but through the efforts of SSC personnel and university leadership, the campus was open for business the following Monday.

Parker University made it through the initial cleanup phase and began designing plans for future construction efforts. This would not have happened if the drone team hadn’t been in place to see the campus from a bird’s-eye view and locate the damage caused by the tornado.

SSC’s goal is always to provide our clients with the highest standard of customer service, consistent quality and cost-effective approaches – and our drone team helps us do all three.

Letting goats loose in California

Fire season is stressful for many Californians. With the frequency of western flames greatly increasing, it’s crucial to look for ways to reduce this natural disaster from occurring on a large scale.

To help, SSC turned to goats – that’s right, goats! – at The Athenian School in California to clean up their Danville campus, because “fires need fuel – but so do goats.” It’s that simple. Goats are very agile, efficient and hungry, which is why officials are choosing them as lawnmowers. They are a go-to resource for reducing stress and fire risk.

“Livestock managers need a place to graze, and the park district needs fuel management,” ecologist Kristen Van Dam explains.

Read more about how SSC uses goats to help prevent fires in California in Diablo Magazine.

For more stories like this, subscribe to the SSC Monthly newsletter. Get news about the latest trends in education and support services, plus tips from our knowledgeable and experienced staff about how to make your facilities run smoothly — and save money.

SSC goes green – and quiet – with new electric mowers

Mean Green electric mower

SSC has never been content with merely providing the services contracted – we want to find innovative ways to take the next step.

Working daily in environments where curiosity and innovation bloom – kindergarten classrooms to sprawling university campuses – inspires and motivates us. These students are leading the way to a better tomorrow, and we want to help them thrive.

Over the years, we have consciously changed practices to reduce waste and chemicals in the environments we all share. We have switched to renewable and sustainable products like bamboo, used goats to maintain fire barriers in some areas, and helped our campuses retrofit their facilities to reduce water waste and maximize energy efficiency. 

Now we are excited to announce the next step in this (r)evolution.

It was summer break for Charleston County Schools, administrators were in their offices preparing for the arrival of students in the coming weeks. The campus was silent. 

Then, there came the grounds crew.

Everyone inwardly groans as they prepare for the earsplitting noise that comes from the necessary task of keeping their beautiful campus in top shape, but the sound never comes.

Maybe they aren’t mowing today. Did the schedule change?  

Peeking out of his window, the principal expects to see someone working on the flowerbeds, but instead he sees a mower with a 48-inch deck cutting the lawn right outside his window – and it’s quiet.

More and more sites are getting to experience the joy of silence as SSC has started transitioning our fleet of mowers from gas to electric through our new partnership with Mean Green. Is your campus next?

Over the next five years, we will be adding more than 200 Mean Green electric mowers to our fleet as we transition out their gas counterparts. Mean Green Mowers is the leading commercial e-mower manufacturer headquartered in Ross, Ohio, and owned by father and son co-founders Joe and Matt Conrad.

For every mower a campus has, there are, on average, six pieces of handheld equipment our grounds crew uses as well, such as trimmers, blowers, weedeaters and edgers. We are moving those to electric alternatives, as well.

We were happy with our plans, but our custodial and maintenance departments wanted to contribute, so golf carts and club cars are also moving to electric. 

In total, these changes will reduce our carbon footprint by more than 53 million pounds over the next five years. That’s the equivalent of building 51 wind turbines or planting 4 million trees and letting them grow for 10 years. This major step is sure to be one of many as our future leaders continue to inspire us. 

Say hello to the new, quiet member of your staff and goodbye to the air and noise pollution.

What will SSC do next … robots? Maybe … actually, yeah, probably. Watch out for one being used on your campus soon.

How to keep the flu from spreading in your school

Young boy at school sneezing into his arm

Last year’s flu season was the longest-lasting in a decade, with flu activity sticking around for 21 straight weeks. That’s why taking measures to prevent the virus from spreading through your school this year is more critical than ever.

Between 5% and 20% of people in the United States get the flu each fall and winter, according to the National Institutes of Health. When students and teachers are forced to stay home with the flu, those missed school days can have a huge effect on student outcomes – and the budget.

Last flu season, the virus began to ramp up in November and peaked in February, which means now is the time to make sure your school is ready.

Here are five steps SSC takes to keep school environments clean and flu-free:

Students in a classroom

1. Be prepared.

SSC has a special cleaning checklist just for cold and flu cold season, which puts an emphasis on cleaning high-touch areas like chairs, desks, door handles, soap dispensers, toilet seats, water fountains and light switches.

By using the Clorox Total 360 electrostatic spray system, which has been shown to decrease absenteeism rates significantly during the germiest seasons, SSC maintains a safe environment for students, staff and parents.

Prepare in advance, make a checklist and focus on what areas your students touch the most. That will help you get everything in place to keep the virus from spreading.

2. Encourage students and teachers to stay home when sick.

Some people may try to be a hero and come to school sick, but it’s important for anyone who gets the flu to stay home until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever to avoid spreading it to other students or teachers.

You could also encourage students, teachers and staff to get the flu shot by offering tips on when and where to get it or even offering vaccinations on campus for staff.

3. Healthy habits = less contamination.

Most experts believe the flu is primarily spread by droplets made when infected people cough and sneeze.

Teach students and staff to cover their mouths with a tissue or bent arm to prevent those droplets from spreading.

4. Emphasize the importance of hand-washing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, using a paper towel to dry hands and using that same towel to turn off the faucet.

Post informative signs in your bathrooms and consider incorporating hand-washing breaks into student and staff schedules.

5. Do more than just clean – especially those drinking fountains.

Sometimes a general cleaning spray won’t cut it. SSC often uses a disinfectant that kills 99.9% of germs, and also has policies to prevent cross-contamination.

Did you know? The germiest places in schools aren’t in the bathroom, like most people think, but water fountains, according to Dr. Harley Rotbart, professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of Colorado. It’s the perfect spot for germ spread since kids put their mouths on the stream of water or on the fountain itself.

[Related: The germiest places in schools.]

Educate your kids to run the water a little first and then drink, or encourage students and teachers to bring their own water bottle – and not share.

We can help your school stay flu-free and germ-free. Reach out to learn more about our services and how you can keep your learning environment clean – and healthy – with SSC as your partner.

For more stories like this, subscribe to the SSC Monthly newsletter. Get news about the latest trends in education and support services, plus tips from our knowledgeable and experienced staff about how to make your facilities run smoothly — and save money.