WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WKBW-TV) — When HJS Supply Co. opened in 2009 at 2983 Seneca Street in West Seneca, its goal was to provide quality janitorial supplies for the WNY region - but what it is experiencing now with the pandemic is unlike anything its thirteen employees have ever seen.
"Oh, it has been off the hook," laughed sales consultant Melanie Bizub.
The family-owned business was already seeing a huge demand for cleaning supplies from residential and commercial customers. Now that some schools are preparing to reopen, that demand has gotten even larger.
"An uptick in supplies like sanitizers and face masks. All the pertinent supplies that everybody is chasing after," explained Bizub.
HJS Supply Co. works with some Buffalo charter schools and local Boces programs. It had to use all its resources to find 'hard to find' supplies that are in short supply across the nation - such as gloves, hand sanitizing dispensers, and child-size masks.
"We had to think outside the box to get things that are really hard to get," added Scott DePaolo, Chief Operating Officer for the company.
Despite the challenges, the small business said it was careful to only buy products that it tests and prove safe. "There isn't any amount of money worth handing out something that is not safe for our customers," added DePaolo.
In addition to selling supplies, HJS also provides classes on the proper cleaning procedures that institutions, like schools, need to use. A key part of that training emphasizes that surfaces need to be properly cleaned of built-up grime and dirt before being disinfected.
"Just spraying a disinfectant onto a dirty doorknob is not doing you any good," explained DePaolo.
The company told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly that it is trying to help schools stay within their budgets for cleaning/sanitizing items, as the schools look to have more intensive cleaning on a regular basis.
DePaolo said he believes state and federal government needs to provide more funding to schools that open.
"To clean 24-hours a day for 7-days a week is great, but how do you pay for it? Supplies are a very small amount of the budget. It is labor that is needed. And that is the part that many don't see when they think 'just put more people there,'" commented DePaolo.
NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH COMMENTS
7 Eyewitness News also reached out to the NYS Department of Health to see what exactly are the requirements for cleaning and hand sanitizing in reopened schools.
Spokesperson Jeffrey Hammond sent the following response:
“To help protect students, faculty and staff from the spread of COVID-19, DOH has issued guidance on proper hand hygiene and cleaning and disinfection of buildings as schools prepare to reopen.”
Hand hygiene requirements are outlined in the K-12 Guidance: https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/Pre-K_to_Grade_12_Schools_MasterGuidence.pdf [governor.ny.gov].
Here is DOH’s general facility cleaning and disinfection guidance: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/interim-guidance-public-and-private-facilities-0 [coronavirus.health.ny.gov]. Also included in the DOH guidance is a link to the New York State registered disinfectants for COVID-19: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/dec-list-products-disinfect-covid-19-0 [coronavirus.health.ny.gov].