How can we clean for health during the school year?
Back-to-school has always been a source of excitement and stress for students, parents, and teachers alike. The new school year brings students as well as an influx of germs into the educational environments. With the additional concern of COVID-19 this year, cleaning for health is more important than ever.
Below, we’ve included some tips for how everyone can help keep their environments clean and healthy to ensure a safe and successful school year.
Preparing for the school year:
- Stay on top of your facility maintenance needs. Keeping a school clean and healthy is harder to sustain when in non-ideal conditions. Things to check include: the HVAC system, the windows, and if there’s wear-and-tear in high traffic areas. Fixes that are done now can help you keep up with tasks during the busy school year.
- Make a list of high-touch items. These are items that are used throughout the day, sometimes by multiple people. They include things like door knobs, hand railings, desks, and chairs. These things will need to be monitored and cleaned on a regular schedule, sometimes multiple times throughout the day.
- Check the cleaning products in the school. Make sure that they are efficient and effective. Some cleaning supplies have expiration dates and will lose their efficiency after that date. If you need to replace items, make sure that the replacement products are up to your standards.
- Make sure your cleaning products are “age-appropriate.” Some cleaning products can leave behind dangerous residue and should not be used around children.
- Make sure that the staff knows what products are available to them, where they are, and how to use them. Accidents can happen, and having this knowledge beforehand will allow you to respond quickly and efficiently to anything that comes up.
- Make sure that the staff is trained in proper personal protection equipment (PPE) use. Prevention plays a high role in these critical times, and protection works the best when it is used correctly.
- Review the internal policy and procedure of handling people who become sick. If someone falls ill during school hours, whether they are a student or teacher, it is important to have a plan in place. Work with the school nurses and medical staff to make sure that the plan will be followed through.
- Many schools have created “isolation rooms” for people who become sick. This is a separate room for people to rest while waiting for someone to pick them up. Make sure that it is adequately supplied with things like tissues and face masks. If possible, after a patient leaves, allow the room to sit for a full 24 hours before cleaning it. If that is not possible, make sure that the staff cleaning the room know that someone who is feeling ill has been inside recently.
- Talk with your janitorial staff or cleaning services. A cleaning plan only works when everyone is on the same page. They will have observations and important experience that can help the school.
During the school year:
- Review the list of high-touch items periodically. As the school year progresses, there will likely be additional items that should be added to the list. As you add them, adjust your plans so they are cleaned more frequently. For some items, it is also possible to plan to have them used less.
- Teach students how to wash their hands properly. Increased awareness can help mitigate the spread of germs. For younger students, this can include a short song or poem they can recite as they wash their hands.
- For older students, teach and remind them how to clean their cell phones. Phones are some of the most-used gadgets.
- Make sure that trash and recycling bins are visible and accessible to students.
- Create disinfectant stations in each classroom, including disinfectant wipes, and have the students use them at the beginning and end of a class. Not only does this help keep the classroom clean, but it will keep students aware of the ongoing situation.
- Continue to communicate with the janitorial staff. It’s important to remain on the same page throughout the school year. Work together to revise any cleaning plans as they are needed.
Janitronics knows that cleaning schools can be challenging. Besides offering school cleaning plans to fit your needs, we also offer consultation services to help you plan for a safe, healthy school year. To reach us, fill out the contact form here.