Cleaning Educational Facilities
Schools and educational facilities catering for children and young people are continuously at risk for viral, bacterial, and fungal outbreaks. Providing a safe environment for children and young people goes beyond maintenance cleaning. Being prepared for an infectious outbreak is essential especially given today’s health crisis and current COVID-19 pandemic.
Before beginning to disinfect, a thorough cleaning must be completed. Dirt and germs should be removed first, using appropriate cleaning agents particularly in institutions like schools and childcare facilities, which have more sensitive populations. Wash surfaces with a general household cleaner to remove soils and dirt, rinse with water, and follow with an EPA-registered disinfectant to kill the germs.
Cleaning and disinfecting and promoting hand hygiene are important everyday actions that schools can take to slow the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases and protect pupils and staff.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can be removed, and killed from surfaces, objects, and hands if the right products are used correctly. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person, but it may also spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your own mouth, nose, or possibly your eyes. Cleaning and disinfecting can reduce the risk of spreading infection by reducing and killing germs on surfaces people frequently touch. Cleaning efforts must be focused on touch points, as these are the places where germs thrive and spread. Touch points are areas and surfaces that people come into contact with often, such as light switches, door handles, hand railings, etc.
Cleaning and disinfecting are part of a broad approach to prevent infectious diseases, including COVID-19, in schools. To help slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, preventive measures include staying home when sick, social distancing, using masks, washing hands often, and regular cleaning and disinfection.
Cleaning and disinfecting reduce the risk of spreading infection by removing and killing germs on surfaces people frequently touch. Given the current pandemic it is important to consider cleaning and disinfecting more frequently at your school to reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Below are a few easy steps you can adopt for your school:
- Develop a schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection, focusing especially on the cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched objects
- Clean and disinfect correctly following the procedures and risk assessments put in place and always follow the label directions on cleaning products and disinfectants and pay close attention to hazard warnings and directions on the product labels.
- Ensure a good hand hygiene routine is in place where regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds takes place
- Limit the use of shared objects (e.g. physical education equipment, art supplies, toys, games, computers) when possible, or ensure these are cleaned and disinfected immediately after use.
- Discourage sharing of items that are difficult to clean or disinfect such as electronic devices, pens and pencils, games, art supplies (e.g., markers, crayons, scissors), and other learning aids.
- Soft and porous materials, such as area rugs and seating, may be removed to reduce the challenges with cleaning and disinfecting them.
- Keep each student’s belongings separated from others’ and in individually labelled containers
- Ensure adequate supplies to minimize sharing of high touch materials to the extent possible (e.g. assigning each student their own art supplies, equipment) or limit use of supplies and equipment to one group of students at a time and clean and disinfect between use.
As well as cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting your school or childcare facility it is important to establish and maintain safe behavioural practices such as:
- social distancing (specifically, staying 2 meters away from others when you must go into a shared space)
- frequently washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based (at least 60% alcohol) hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
- wearing cloth face coverings
- avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth
- staying home when sick
- cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces
Another way to reduce the risk of exposure is to make long-term changes to practices and procedures. These could include reducing the use of porous materials used for seating, leaving some doors open to reduce touching by multiple people, opening windows to improve ventilation, or removing objects in your common areas within the school environment.
When choosing your sanitizers and disinfectants for your school it is important to look for solutions that are highly effective yet are non-hazardous and non-toxic. An ideal disinfectant and sanitizer must be nontoxic to surface contact, effective in various forms, and relatively inexpensive. It is worth mentioning that a new revolutionary disinfectant has emerged on the market and it is proving to be a bio-safe solution highly effective yet perfectly safe, the Hypochlorous Acid. HOCl may be the disinfectant of choice for your school. For more information about this please visit our website.