Janitorial services, specifically the cleanliness of the learning environment, is among the most important environmental factors in student health.
Janitorial Services and the Environmental Factors Affecting Student Health
Approximately one in six people in the U.S. spend a significant portion of their day in an educational facility.
Spending that much time anywhere will likely have an impact on an individuals health.
Recent studies have found that specific environmental factors within K-12 facilities have a direct impact on student & faculty health, attendance, and performance.
According to School Planning and Management;
A large and growing body of evidence demonstrates that school facilities have a direct impact on student learning, student and staff health, and school finances.
But too many students attend school facilities that fall short of providing 21st-century learning environments because essential maintenance and capital improvements are underfunded.
The three most prominent environmental factors under the purview of facilities management are:
- Ventilation and air flow, and;
Clean Classrooms and Healthy Kids
The Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA) lists five custodial service levels for K-12 facilities.
- Level 1 – Orderly Spotlessness – The highest level of cleanliness. Floors are spotless. All surfaces are clean and free of dirt, marks, scratches, or smudges. Restrooms are thoroughly sanitized with sparkling fixtures. Trash receptacles are empty and absent odor or stain.
- Level 2 – Ordinary Tidiness – The baseline standard of cleanliness for classrooms, and the acceptable minimum in quality for restrooms, locker rooms, and showers. Similar to Level 1, though noticeable dust and other marks are visible on horizontal and vertical surfaces upon close examination.
- Level 3 – Casual Inattention – Below the minimum standard for restroom and locker room cleanliness. Typically the result of cost-cutting measures, or staffing challenges. This is the level that begins to affect the attention and health of K12 building occupants. Floors are swept, but a buildup of dust and stains is visible. Carpeting is dull and worn. Dirt, dust, and other marks are apparent upon cursory inspection.
- Level 4 – Moderate Dinginess – Typically the result of ongoing budget cuts and extreme staffing challenges. The cleanliness of occupied areas borders on unacceptable and is negatively impacting student and teacher health and performance. Dirt build up is apparent upon cursory examination of vertical and horizontal surfaces. Lights are burned out, and fixtures are noticeably dingy. Trashcans contain old garbage and smell sour.
- Level 5 – Unkempt Neglect – The lowest level of ‘cleanliness’. Even when cleaning is done, it is performed at an unacceptable level. All surfaces are noticeably filthy and cluttered, and a lack of routine maintenance is apparent. A high percentage of lights are burned out, and fixtures are noticeably filthy, with flies and potentially hazardous dust balls are present. Garbage cans are full, or overflowing, and emit a strong sour smell. Floors and carpeting are dirty and heavily worn, representing both a slip and fall, as well as a health and safety hazard. These conditions are sub-optimal for student and teacher health and performance.
According to a survey conducted by the APPA;
About 88 percent of the 1,481 students polled reported a lack of cleanliness becomes a distraction at APPA Level 3 – casual inattention – and Level 4 – moderate dinginess.
Roughly 84 percent reported they desire APPA Level 1 – orderly spotlessness – or Level 2 – ordinary tidiness – standards of cleanliness to create a positive learning environment.
Cleanliness ranked as the fourth most important building element to impact students’ personal learning.
The top three building elements were noise, air temperature and lighting.
About 80 percent of the students reported they should be involved in keeping campus buildings clean, and 78 percent say cleanliness affects their health.
Students reported a lack of cleanliness affects allergies, spreads germs, increases bug and rodent infestations, and promotes higher stress levels.
Green Cleaning Tips
- Wipe down and sanitize all horizontal and verticle surfaces daily during in-school schedules.
- Clean and disinfect bathrooms from top to bottom, and polish all metal fixtures.
- Sweep and mop hard floors daily, scrub weekly to monthly, depending on foot traffic, and polish or buff periodically to maintain a high shine while ensuring wax and dirt do not build up in corners and that baseboards are thoroughly cleaned.
- Dust light fixtures regularly, and replace burned out light bulbs immediately.
- Empty trash cans daily, and clean and sanitize as needed.
- Clean windows as necessary to prevent filtered natural lighting, and to assist with the lowering of natural resource use for heating.
- Ensure a proper classroom temperature can be controlled, while allowing for clean air to circulate from the outside, using HEPA filters and live-plants as practical.
- Eliminate the use of toxic cleaning chemicals, and replace with certified green cleaning products.
References & Resources
- How K-12 Facilities Impact Student Health and Learning
- APPA Custodial Operation Self-Analysis Program
The lack of state and federal funding to improve schools has led to a health and education crisis, where children are struggling to learn, and educators are struggling to teach, not through some fault in the system, but due to external environmental factors, including lighting, proper temperature controls, air flow, and the cleanliness of facilities.
The challenge is so profound that the vast majority of students surveyed over the years believe they should be directly involved in the cleaning and maintenance of their classrooms to maintain their level of desired cleanliness and to promote a healthy learning environment.
If you would like to learn more about the advantages of outsourced janitorial services to address the environmental challenges of classroom cleanliness to ensure student health, contact us today for a free quote!
In Bakersfield CA, call (661) 437-3253
In Fresno CA, call (559) 206-1059
In Valencia CA, or Santa Clarita CA, call (661) 437-3253