By Ian Jeansonne
COVID-19 has not put a stop to the hard work of the landscaping crew of The University of Mississippi.
The new everyday life of the campus has made landscaping and cleanup a unique experience for the working crew at the university. Starting at the beginning of quarantine in April, the workers of the crew were divided into three groups of workers in order to make sure the school grounds were still maintained.
“With over a thousand acres of campus to work on, there is always work to do even with less people on campus,” said Nathan Lazinsky, assistant superintendent of grounds.
A staff of 31 full-time employees provides services to over 1000 acres on the central campus in Oxford. Landscape services staff attend over 20 hours a year of plant identification training, and 35 to 50 hours of safety and operational training. Landscape Services staff plant approximately 20,000 seasonal color plants, 10,000 tulip bulbs and 10,000 daffodils in any given year. They maintain 18,915 square feet of seasonal color beds, and there are approximately 175 acres of Bermuda 419 turf.
Since 2008, Landscape Services has planted over 5,340 trees. The University currently has 2,573 metal bollards on campus with 16,199 linear feet (3.3 miles) of chain between the bollards. There are over ten miles of streets on campus that the LSD sweeps and or backpack blows on a weekly basis.
The crews have had an easier time keeping up with their work with fewer students walking on campus, which normally slows down their progress as they are forced to pause as they allow students to pass by. However, there are still certain disadvantages that COVID-19 brings to the crew.
“Although our dumpsters have been less full lately, the trash cans of the Grove and around campus have been excessively full,” Lazinksy said. “The Grove really has become a park this year, so the cans are constantly being filled up.”
In order to help keep the members of the crew safe, the workers take certain steps each morning and throughout the working day. The staff does a sanitary wiping of all the equipment and vehicles to start off the day. After that, equipment is assigned to specific employees to help prevent any germs from being spread. They also always wear masks and limit vehicles they drive to one worker per vehicle.
“We have 31 full-time staff that we divide into 2 groups, A and B, that helps us to keep working and avoid any excessive crowding,” Lazinsky said.
Although trash may be slowed down around campus, the crew has started picking up a new form of litter— masks.
“The mask has been a problem. There have been several found while we are cleaning the campus,” Lazinsky said.
Even with all the regulations and troubles, the groundskeeping crews work hard and stick to their creed:
Lead by Example.
Adapt and Overcome.
Never Stop Training and Growing.
Dedicate Ourselves to Professional Integrity.
Serve with Respect and Pride.
Achieve Quality Results with an Eye for Detail.
Promote and Provide a Beautiful Environment.
Excel Through High Standards and Excellence Within.