Meet Rene Cuellar, custodial worker at PHS


Yilin Li

Information provided based on CDC guidelines.

Yilin Li, Reporter

While students of PHS open their zoom apps and turn their cameras on every morning for e-learning, their teacher is sitting at a desk, donning a bright smile. After they watch their teacher file out of the zoom meeting, they get up and leave their classroom. They spot a man down the hallway, efficiently wiping away traces of any possible COVID-19 bacteria. The man looks up and waves, and the teacher waves back, internally thanking the custodian and his dedication to keeping the school safe. 

With the high number of staff working at PHS, the spread of COVID-19 is not unlikely. However, Rene Cuellar, a custodian working at PHS has been working dutifully to prevent the spread of the virus and to ensure the safety of the staff working at school. 

During this time of the rapid influx of COVID-19 cases and students going back to school, Cuellar has been prioritizing the cleaning of door handles, chairs, light switches, filing cabinets, and anything else that staff members may have come into frequent contact with that he comes across during his shift. 

“The areas that I sanitize during my shift are the Main Office, Administrator Office, Guidance Hall, Main L, and Music Hall.” Quellar said.  

During his shift from 6 am to 3:30 pm,Cuellar goes through his route around four times a day, the first round taking around 2 and a half hours and the other laps taking around one hour respectively. When asked to keep track of the amount of doorknobs cleaned, Quellar counted 272 doorknobs during his first round around the area he sanitizes. Throughout the entire day, he will wipe down door handles around 600-700 times. His go to cleaning supplies are wipes and a disinfectant spray bottle. 

“I can go through 3 25 oz bottles in one shift.” Quellar said.

To Quellar, the hardest part of his job is not being able to listen to music. Before Corona, Quellar often used earbuds and listened to music to pass the time. 

“Now that I’m working 1st shift and there are more staff members around like teachers and coaches I don’t listen to music anymore.” Quellar said. 

Despite the less than ideal situation occurring, a positive Quellar realized while doing his job is how he allows the other staff members to feel more comfortable at school.

“Usually, I’m just cleaning things up and wiping things down but during my time cleaning during COVID, teachers and staff members have told me how they appreciate what I’m doing and how safe they feel.” Quellar said. “I never really thought much of it, since it’s just my job. However I’ve started seeing it in a different light.”