Each day, roughly 55 million students and seven million staff attend U.S. public and private schools. And each year, students miss approximately 60 million days of school due to the spread of communicable illnesses such as the cold and flu.
To help school cleaning staff maintain a healthy learning environment, Markatos Services recommends the following:
1. Implement a handwashing program. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), handwashing is one of the most effective ways to avoid sickness and reduce the spread of germs. Washing hands with soap and water is the most effective way to reduce the number of microbes and germs on hands, so it is important to teach students and staff proper handwashing procedures.
To complement a handwashing program, schools should also consider installing infection prevention tools such as automated flushing systems, hands-free towel dispensers and hand sanitizer stations. In fact, a recent study showed that the use of an alcohol-based gel hand sanitizer in the classroom can reduce absenteeism due to illness by nearly 20 percent.
2. Clean and disinfect all “hotspots.” Implement an ongoing cleaning and disinfection program for germ hotspots throughout the school. These surfaces include door handles, light switches, computer keyboards, desks, supplies and common play areas or tables.
When cleaning these high-touch areas, make sure to use separate microfiber mops and towels between zones to remove bacteria and reduce cross contamination.
3. Maintain Indoor Air Quality. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) is a commonly cited problem contributing to absenteeism and poor school performance in educational facilities. To improve IAQ, matting should be placed at all entrances and high traffic zones throughout the school to prevent dust and dirt from being tracked into the building. To maintain fresh IAQ and clean facilities, ensure that matting is regularly laundered to remove captured debris.
School facility managers should consider partnering with a facility services provider who can make it easier for cleaning staff to create a healthy and safe learning environment.