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Preparing to Reopen Campus: Behind the Scenes with CSP Sodexo Director Barry Kirsch


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As we enter Minnesota’s sunnier summer months, Concordia University, St. Paul is hard at work preparing to welcome its students, faculty, and staff back to campus for the Fall 2020 semester. To do that, CSP’s Coronavirus Response Team has worked closely with the CSP Sodexo team that provides food service and maintenance on campus. And it’s no small task: not only is Sodexo continuing to respond to the complexities presented by COVID-19 by proactively maintaining a safe and clean environment for the entire CSP campus community currently, they have also focused on researching technology and products to sustain these safety standards in the future should guidelines change.

Barry Kirsch is CSP’s Sodexo Director and is a leader in implementing these efforts on campus. He notes the change between the previous cleaning protocols and the protocols implemented following the international spread of COVID-19.

“Before the pandemic, our campus team was trained with specific cleaning protocols,” said Kirsch. “As the outbreak began, we implemented additional, specific standard operating procedures and protocols designed to maximize the safety of all CSP students, staff, and faculty. Sodexo being an international organization can draw upon best practices from around the globe.”

In addition to integrating COVID-19-specific cleaning guidelines outlined on CSP’s Coronavirus Information page, Kirsch and the Sodexo team are dedicated to exploring additional options that continue to support the safety and cleanliness of campus with even more efficiency.

“Our typical summer is completing special projects such as refinishing the floors,” Kirsch explained.

This summer is not a typical summer, however, so the team has implemented additional disinfectant wipe downs to key areas. If COVID-levels remain steady as the pandemic timeline continues into the academic year, Kirsch and the team will expand the enhanced cleaning to all custodial-cleaned areas.

In addition, the team has been distributing disinfectant kits containing a bottle of disinfectant, paper towels, gloves, all in a handy portable carrying case with the intent of supplying each department with the basic supplies needed to keep their areas clean and safe. Forthcoming will be the installation of “no touch” door openers so that individuals are able to use their foot to open doors as well as the distribution of UV hand wands that can be used to disinfect items like keyboards, phones, and desktops without chemicals. Taking that process a step further, Sodexo has purchased a large mobile UV light system that will be rotated throughout campus each night. They’ve also created a manual that breaks down the enhanced cleaning steps for all custodians and have developed a detailed protocol based on CDC guidelines for if the University encounters a known case on campus. This was done in conjunction with CSP’s Security Department and Residence Life Office.

All of this planning and documentation has taken place against the backdrop of supply-chain challenges that many have encountered as a direct impact of the pandemic.

“The availability issues that the general public and businesses were experiencing through the crisis were the same – if not more intense – with us,” Kirsch noted. “When the consumer supply chains dried up, they also dried up in the commercial arena.”

The biggest challenge has been availability. During regular times, Sodexo keeps a supply of virus disinfectant on-hand for regular custodial use. That monthly supply is based on prior years’ usage to forecast future usage.

“We learned quickly that our normal ship dates were being pushed further and further back,” Kirsch said. “Realizing this, we switched gears and looked for alternatives wherever we could find them.”

That flexibility has paid off and currently, the team is sourcing virus chemicals from four different suppliers. This has meant products being delivered in bulk. Kirsch has embraced this and the team came together to set up a bottling station on the premise. For legal and safety regulations, they even print their own labels with ingredients and usage directions that are OSHA and CDC compliant.

The ultimate goal is to keep everyone who comes to CSP’s campus safe. This starts with the student population, faculty, staff, and every visitor and vendor.

“It’s important to us that not only is the campus safe with disinfectant and safety protocols followed, but that anybody on our campus feels safe and that everything that can be done is being done to keep the population safe,” said Kirsch.

For more information on Concordia University, St. Paul’s response to the Coronavirus, please visit for the latest.