While many students, staff, and faculty members have now returned to Brooklyn College for the first time since March 2020, a crew of more than 200 employees per day has held the campus down since early in the pandemic. 

New York State may have been under pandemic restrictions, with most of the college’s 3,800 employees working from home for the better part of the last year and a half, but for 220 essential workers, trekking to 2900 Bedford Avenue and logging a full day’s work has remained an everyday thing.

They are security and custodial workers, plumbers and carpenters, staff from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, Food Pantry workers, and many others whose job it was to secure and maintain the campus or other critical functions.

Though many initially found that a once bustling campus felt a little post-apocalyptic when they first returned, most quickly realized that you can get a lot of work done when no one is around.

“We took advantage of it,” said Scott Hambelton, paint supervisor. “If anything, it was beneficial to us. It’s much easier to paint when the rooms are empty.”

As the first weeks of the fall semester and the gradual return to campus unfolds—20 percent of the college’s courses are fully in-person, and another 25 percent are hybrid, while most staff are reporting to campus at least one day a week—the essential workers have barely missed a beat, earning a nod from President Michelle J. Anderson in one of her letters to the campus.

“As we gradually transition our remote employees back on site, let’s continue to be grateful for all those who have already had to work on-site over the past 15 months,” she said in a June correspondence with the campus community.

For much of the summer, that work has included preparing the campus for a mass reentry this semester. Here’s a look at the college’s essential employees at work.