Keep healthy students and workers in schools is an important task and also involves cleaning. Indeed, cleanliness is essential. An article of Becky Mollenkamp in Sanitary Maintenance talks about this.
“[Occupants] share classes and facilities with a large number of different people, which increases their exposure to more germs that could make them ill,” says Charles P. Gerba, professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Preventing the spread of illness in schools is key in improving absentee rates, which affect school funding in many parts of the country. Nearly 60 million school days are lost each year to colds and the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Cleanliness reducing indoor pollution, including bacteria, viruses, dust, allergens, molds and fungal spores, greatly enhances the well being of building occupants.
What to do
Using the wrong procedures and products can reduce cleaning’s effectiveness or even cause more harm than good. Some janitors reuse the same cloth rags or sponges instead of changing them out.
Another error: some janitors may also believe that ‘more is better’ when it comes to chemicals. If a 1:10 dilution ratio is good, they may think 1:5 is even better. This is not only wasteful, but also increases potential exposures to harmful chemicals.
In addition, cleaning crews need to allow adequate dwell time for disinfectants. Administration and management are causing problems by not providing cleaning staff with proper training.
Dealers can train their customers to ensure they are following these proper cleaning techniques. Many schools don’t clean at the frequencies required to effectively control the spread of infectious diseases.
Budget cuts often reduce the size and capabilities of custodial departments, which sometimes leaves teachers and students helping with cleaning tasks.
Distributors and cleaning crews should make soap and towels or hand dryers available at every sink, and provide hand-sanitizing stations in high-touch areas where hand washing isn’t readily available.
Signage with instructions should be displayed near sinks. Distributors can suggest installing kid-friendly dispensers to encourage participation from younger students.
Every surface in the school should be cleaned regularly. Most important, however, are areas where cross-contamination is likely. That means any high-touch point that easily allows for germs and infections to be transferred from person to person.
Obviously, restrooms are hot spots for contamination and should be cleaned with the greatest frequency. It’s important to not overlook small details, such as the toilet flush lever, the inside lock on stalls or push plates on exit doors.
Other troublesome hot spots in a school include doorknobs, pencil sharpeners, keyboards, water fountain buttons, telephones and switch plates.
Disinfectants are an important disease-fighting tool in the janitor’s arsenal. In USA, schools should use EPA-registered quatinary-based products that include a Norovirus kill claim.
Finally, perhaps the most important thing school administrators and distributors can do is to empower custodial staffs by frequently telling them the important role they play in keeping the school community healthy. Remind them that cleaning is not just about appearance; it is about health.