Every parent knows it: when kids are in school, they are way more likely to get sick than when they are not. From sharing toys, chairs, desks, computer keyboards, water fountains and door handles, kids are the most prone to getting sick. Elementary and preschool students are the most prone to getting sick at school, mostly because their immune system is not fully developed yet. On average, elementary students will have 12 colds per year (yikes!). And let’s not forget that many school staff also end up getting sick from their students. So what can be done to help stop the spread of infection among students and staff?
Sure, you can remind kids to wash their hands, cover their mouths when they cough, etc, but how effective will it really be? Schools must play a very important role in the cleaning and disinfection within their buildings in order to protect both employees and students. The primary person responsible for the upkeep of the school building is the custodian, and, as such, he should be trained in infection control methods.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes the following recommendations on how to properly clean and disinfect schools and what procedures to follow:
- Knowing the difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing
The CDC stresses the difference between the three methods of “cleaning”. While cleaning involves the removal of dirt and germs, it does not necessarily kill the bacteria. Disinfection, on the other hand, uses chemicals to kill bacterias, and does not focus on a clean surface, but rather a bacteria-free one. Finally, sanitization is the process of lowering the number of bacteria to a safe level.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched often
This point speaks for itself; many schools already have a specific procedure regarding what should be cleaned more often, such as desks, compared to something that does not have to be cleaned often.
- Do routine cleaning and disinfecting.
- Clean and disinfect correctly.
It’s simple to say, however, many people and institutions are not trained to know exactly what “correctly” means. It is important to pay close attention to the detailed instructions provided on the label of product.
- Use products safely.
Pay attention to warnings and hazards on the label of product. Make sure that proper equipment (gloves, masks, etc.) are used when necessary.
- Handle waste properly.
Avoid touching tissues/napkins when emptying waste baskets. Wear gloves, if possible. Wash hands after handling waste.
- Learn more.
CDC provides more follow up information on their website about disinfection and cleaning for schools.
Let’s prevent staff and students from getting unnecessary illnesses and work together for a more clean and safe learning environment!