Check out our latest green cleaning services tips to help administrators, teachers, and students maintain a clean and healthy classroom all year long.
Green Cleaning Services Tips for a Healthy School Year
As the new school year rapidly approaches, teachers, faculty, custodial, and grounds crews will be working overtime in preparation for the incoming students.
Given the rise in unhealthy air conditions and increased outbreaks of norovirus in schools, now is the perfect time for administrators and teachers to look at how their facilities affect the health, learning ability, and future of the children in their care and implement cost-effective methods to improve learning conditions.
Additionally, with the increase of technology tools in schools, a regular cleaning and disinfection protocol must be adopted for tablets and computers, especially mobile labs, to prevent the rapid spread of germs and bacteria.
British watchdog Which? claims that your smartphones, keyboards, and tablets are more contaminated with germs than a public toilet seat.
The company took swabs from 90 devices, finding "hazardous" levels of bacteria that can make you sick, including E. coli.
One iPad had 600 units of Staphylococcus aureus, while a smartphone had 140.
The dirtiest keyboard had 480, compared to less than 20 units per swab of an office toilet.
The Cost of Illness in Schools
Student and teacher health has a direct impact on performance and grades.
The primary contributing factors to school derived illness are:
- Student hand hygiene, and;
- Environmental/Infrastructure issues.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health:
- Approximately 20% of the population works in or attends a school.
- Teachers miss an average of 5.3 school days per year, compared to students, who miss an average of 4.5 days.
- 52.2 million cases of the common cold affect Americans under the age of 17 each year.
- Only 58% of female and 48% of male middle and high school students washed their hands after using the bathroom.
- Of these, only 33% of the women and 8% of the men used soap.
While encouraging proper hand-hygiene and implementing superior green cleaning practices, which have a proven ROI, are relatively inexpensive, the decayed infrastructure of our nation's schools requires a substantial financial investment.
According to an article published by Education World;
A study of the infrastructure of U.S. schools in 2000 by the National Education Association found that one-third of school buildings need major repairs or total replacement.
Among the repair problems are those that cause poor environmental conditions, such as leaking roofs that increase mold; poor ventilation systems; and old, dirty carpets.
The NEA report Modernizing Our Schools: What Will It Cost? estimates the total cost for school modernization to be $322 billion, triple the estimate the U.S. General Accounting Office made in 1995.
Green Classroom Cleaning Tips
There are several ways teachers can cost-effectively protect their own health and well-being while improving the learning environment inside of their classrooms.
- Measuring and mapping your classroom, accounting for work areas, desks, technology labs, and walkways will allow you to organize the space in a practical fashion that eliminates clutter, account for airflow and natural lighting, and simplify daily custodial and sanitation duties.
- Request the custodial staff turn on the HVAC system in your classroom and open all the windows to evacuate any dust likely collected over the summer. Consider placing fans in the room while the air circulates to help force the dust and any airborne microbes out the open windows.
- Remove all boxes and unnecessary clutter.
- Deep clean the classroom from the top down using safe, certified green cleaning products.
- Start by dusting any HVAC vents, ceiling tiles, and lights with a microfiber duster on an extended pole. For safety, avoid climbing on furniture or ladders and request custodial and maintenance address any difficult cleaning tasks before moving on.
- Dust and wipe down the walls, wall fixtures, cabinets, and horizontal surfaces.
- Wipe down and disinfect desks, chairs, and tables.
- Deep clean carpets and walkway mats.
- Sweep, mop, scrub, and wax hard flooring.
- Ensure sufficient sanitary supplies--foaming soap, clean paper towels, tissue, green disinfectant wipes and spray, and liquid hand sanitizer--are stocked and readily available.
- Emphasize hand-hygiene the first day of class, underscore proper hand-washing technique with posters (available in the References & Resources section), and encourage participation through gamification.
- If children in your classroom show signs of illness, send them to the school nurse.
- Sanitize computer equipment and tablets with a certified, electronic-safe wipe, preferably before and after every use.
References & Resources
- 6 Back to School Tips to Organize Your Classroom
- 5 Tips for Spring Cleaning the Classroom
- Handwashing - General Posters
Making small, relatively inexpensive adjustments to how your classroom is organized, supplied, and cleaned, as well as encouraging students to observe proper hand sanitation practices can have a tremendous impact on the success of the upcoming school year.
For optimal results:
- Focus on indoor air quality.
- Pay attention to the direction and effects of indoor lighting and glare.
- Forego the use of consumer-grade cleaning chemicals in favor of certified green cleaning products.
- Plan the setup and flow of your classroom to align with lesson plans, focusing on healthy learning environments.
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