With the new school year rapidly approaching, it's time for school administrators and faculty members to take a long hard look at the health and hygiene of their classrooms and take action to ensure a safe and productive new year.
Keeping Classrooms Safe and Healthy
On average, students in the United States spend between six to eight hours per day in the classroom.
According to the California Department of Education, the average classroom size in California for K-6 students ranges between just over 21 to almost 28.
In regards to health and safety, what that translates into is twenty to thirty different people, not counting the teacher or other staff, tracking in dirt, germs, and bacteria on their hands and feet, five days per week, at a minimum--all of which can and is transmitted quickly with the slightest touch.
That does not account for the interaction between students and faculty during break periods.
Previous studies in professional office buildings where workers had minimal contact with one another showed that a single contaminated doorknob resulted in the further contamination of up to sixty percent of high-contact surfaces and building occupants in less than four hours.
[...] researchers found that contamination of just a single doorknob or tabletop results in the spread of viruses throughout office buildings, hotels, and healthcare facilities.
Within two to four hours, the virus could be detected on 40 percent to 60 percent of workers and visitors in the facilities and commonly touched objects.
A recent study conducted by Good Morning America, who secretly pulled two random students from a classroom and placed a harmless product called Glow Germ on their hands, demonstrated that germs could spread to multiple students, shared facilities, such as the library, and various surfaces, within a matter of hours.
After the test, eight of the twenty-six students in the test classroom had Glow Germ all over their hands, face, even in their ears.
True to form, the first surface to be contaminated was a hallway drinking faucet handle, which would have been subsequently touched by every student that used it, and contaminated them as well.
For More Information:
Washing Hands and Wiping Fomites
Protecting student health and wellbeing starts in the classroom.
There are two straightforward, cost-effective methods that can be employed right now that will significantly reduce the number of student illnesses and absences, as well as all the issues associated with them:
- Handwashing, and;
- Fomite cleaning.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, fomites are non-living surfaces where germs and bacteria can live long enough to spread to someone or something else.
In the classroom, common examples of these are:
- Keyboards and mice, and;
When assessing fomites in the classroom to determine which surface should be wiped down daily, a good rule of thumb is to assess whether more than one student touched the surface that day.
If so, then, yes.
If not, you probably missed it, so yes.
Instilling good handwashing practices at an early stage in the student's career increases the likelihood of maintaining the habit into adulthood, and decreases the chances of acquiring, sometimes life-threatening illnesses that have been shown to severely impact student performance.
One of the most popular methods for teaching the importance of handwashing and demonstrating to children how not washing their hands can spread germs to others is glitter on their hands.
Glitter on their hands demonstrates the same principles and lessons of Glow Germ without all of the unnecessary equipment, is immediately visible, dirt cheap, and with the proper presentation, can be a lot of fun.
Green Classroom Cleaning Checklist
In the previously cited office study, noted microbiologist, Dr. Charles Gerba, prescribed wiping down fomites once per day with a product known as Quats.
Quats are ammonium salts. Each quat molecule has a central “core” characterized by a positively-charged nitrogen atom (N+) that is attached to other chemically-active groups that include carbon.
Many different quat-based compounds are created by modifications of this basic molecule.
However, research has shown that exposure to quats found in cleaning products can be hazardous to the health of children and adults.
Ammonium Quaternary Compounds, aka Quats, are found in a variety of cleaning products that we all use daily.
These include disinfectant sprays, wipes, toilet cleaners and more. Using disinfectant cleaners that have quats as an ingredient is doing you, your family, friends, and employees a disservice.
Quats have been linked to irritating skin, lungs, asthma, fertility issues, and reproductive harm.
Long after you have disinfected your kitchen table, quats continue to linger around.
So, with every passing hand that touches the surface you “cleaned” with disinfecting sprays and wipes containing quats, causes the side effects of the quats to live on.
An alternative to quat-based wipes can be found on the Environmental Protection Agency's Safer Choice website.
Wiping down fomites once per day will reduce the instance of illness-causing germs and bacteria by more than 90%.
Having students wash their hands after:
- Using the restroom.
- Before and after eating.
- After sneezing or coughing, and;
- After returning from recess.
Will nearly eliminate the most common method germs spread--hand-to-surface contact.
Implementing very basic cleaning and personal hygiene practices in the classroom, starting on day one, will have a tremendous impact on the health and performance of, not only each student but the school and district as a whole.
Further, studies have demonstrated the cost-saving and performance improving qualities of green cleaning products and services, especially when combined with modern no-touch disinfection methods.
If you would like more information regarding the benefits of outsourcing standard cleaning services for your school or daycare, or would like to schedule a free, no-obligation onsite assessment of your facilities infection prevention and control needs, 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