KITCHENER -- Custodians and maintenance staff are being recognized as heroes as they help stop the spread of COVID-19 at local schools.

Before staff and students returned to Waterloo Catholic District School Board classes in the fall, custodians and staff were busy prepping and sanitizing schools.

"They have been absolutely instrumental in getting our schools ready back when were first coming back to school and in every part of the operation, day in and day out," Director of Education Loretta Notten said.

Their relentless effort and positive teamwork were magnified in the pandemic.

"They were up to the task, ready to go and happy to contribute," said Colin Hayward, facility operations supervisor at the WCDSB.

"The reaction we have is immediate," maintenance worker Peter Harrington said. "We just get it done, because we know how important it is."

The important work is recognized by staff, students and administrators.

"Our custodians and facilities staff, they truly are making miracles happen every day in our schools," said Marilyn Dawson, principal at St. Boniface Catholic Elementary School.

Their work has made local Catholic schools feel stronger together.

"I've definitely had a number of conversations with custodians who are saying 'Health and safety of our students and staff is number one,'" Hayward said. "This is no different than before, it's just being a bit more diligent about it to cover everything."