Amount Awarded:
Funding Received:
Project Status:

Executive Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to nearly 14,000 confirmed cases and over 600 deaths in King County. Furthermore, people of color are dying from COVID-19 at disproportionate rates in comparison to the white population. Washington State Governor Inslee issued the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2. However, this mandate does not apply to custodians who are considered essential workers. To protect the health of the University of Washington Seattle Campus community, 259 custodial workers continue to work, cleaning and disinfecting various campus areas. The majority of custodial workers are immigrants, refugees, and people of color. Many are over 60 years of age and vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 exposure. The purpose of this project is to bring visibility to the people who take care of the UW Seattle Campus and facilitate dialogue among the UW community that focuses on the health impacts to UW custodial workers. Through continued dialogue there is an overarching goal to advance health equity.

UW custodians will be the photographers in this project and photographs will focus on the project aims:

  1. Identify custodians’ perceptions of their workplace and home or neighborhood as sources of health opportunities or barriers.
  2. Identify attainable workplace improvements that protect and support the health of custodians, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This project is currently in its recruitment stage. About 15 custodians will be recruited and divided into smaller groups to meet weekly and hold discussions about their photographs. They will choose their favorite photographs to be displayed in a public art installation and a website for wider accessibility. Recommendations and action steps for how the UW community can support custodians will be part of the installation. Evalynn is the daughter of UW custodians who have dedicated decades of their lives to cleaning UW buildings. She has been leading an appreciation effort for UW custodial workers since March by serving weekly breakfasts to each area of campus:

Primary Contact:
Evalynn Romano