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.