Protecting occupant health through a combination of enhanced surface hygiene and personal health habits is critical for maintaining the demonstrable necessity for in-person classroom learning.
Enhanced Cleaning Measures to Combat the COVID Slide
In-person learning is critical for combatting the slide in student academic, social, and emotional development commonly observed during prolonged school closures.
As a recent New York Times editorial noted, history has shown that educational progress often takes a hit when schools are closed for extended periods of time.
According to the piece, the shortcomings of many schools' remote learning plans make it “even more important that educators sort out how to best catch students up when in-school instruction begins again” following COVID-19 shutdowns.
As a result, administrators and school systems should be working on post-COVID plans that get students back on track academically while making space for social-emotional learning.
One high-outcome method for protecting facility occupants from the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19 and its numerous variants, is to maintain a consistently high standard of surface cleanliness and individual hand hygiene.
According to Mike Flagg of SC Johnson Professional;
Some schools are reopening for the first time in over a year, and students and staff want to be reassured that cleaning crews are using the right products at the right times when cleaning and disinfecting.
Improving cleaning efforts and ensuring cleaning, disinfecting, and hand hygiene products are available can help reduce the stress and anxiety around the spread of germs some might be feeling when returning to in-person learning.
Enhanced Cleaning Tips to Promote Healthy Learning Environments
Implementing enhanced cleaning measures will help prevent the surface transmission of SARS-CoV-2, Influenza, and the wide range of other pathogens and pathogenic bacteria commonly found in classrooms and on the hands of students.
Facility-wide disinfection applications are only necessary in the event of a large-scale outbreak in the local community, a significant spike in infections directly tied to the school, or a suspected case of localized contamination within one or several of the buildings on campus.
Not only is the practice hazardous and wasteful, but it also presents untold hazards to the local environment, likely presenting future long-term health issues among other members of the community due to exposure to hazardous toxins and byproducts found in chemical disinfectants.
Further, SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus, making it highly susceptible to inactivation via contact with regular soap and water, rendering the need for large-scale disinfection services as a preventative measure unnecessary.
Alternatively, implement facility-wide surface cleaning with an EPA-approved commercial-grade soap-based detergent and focus on targeted fomite disinfection with an EPA-registered disinfectant several times per day.
As mentioned previously, SARS-CoV-2 is highly susceptible to inactivation via contact with regular soap and water.
A wide range of disinfectant products has been published to the EPA's List-N as effective against SARS-CoV-2, including numerous Safer Choice products that are ideal for routine preventive fomite disinfection and several chemicals designed for application via an electrostatic disinfection appliance, which is perfect for disinfecting large facilities, such as gymnasiums, or addressing a contaminated section of the facility.
Before SARS-CoV-2, proper hand hygiene was viewed as the single best solution for combatting the spread of infectious disease, second only to vaccination.
Schools should ensure that restrooms are checked, cleared, and cleaned multiple times a day to encourage optimal handwashing compliance numbers.
Additionally, soap stations should be fully stocked with stores readily available for replacement as needed.
Hand sanitizer, which should be used sparingly in combination with ongoing educational training regarding safe use, should be placed at strategic locations, including doors leading into and out of classrooms, cafeterias, and restrooms.
Taking a few minutes each semester to educate students regarding proper hand hygiene practices has been shown to save lives, eliminate the spread of illness, decrease absenteeism, and improve educational outcomes.
Additionally, posters over handwashing stations in the classroom and in restrooms reminding students of the importance of handwashing and providing an overview of the general methods have been shown to significantly increase compliance levels.
Facility floors are an often overlooked medium that serves as a highway for the transmission of soil, bacteria, dangerous chemicals, and pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2.
When it comes to cleaning—as we’re often told by the media, our peers and even family members—it’s important to focus our disinfecting efforts on high-touch surfaces.
One would think once those high-touch surfaces are taken care of you’re in the clear.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case – there’s one culprit that everyone needs to start paying more attention to… the floors; a constant in every space including grocery stores, hospitals, airports and warehouses.
When an infected person coughs or sneezes some droplets land on the floor.
Another person then walks on the same floor and picks up the virus on their shoes.
As they continue to walk around, the virus begins to spread.
Returning home they bring it into their house.
Taking off their shoes it spreads to their hands, which can in turn spread to their face, increasing their chances of becoming infected.
Flooring should be swapped and mopped every day with a surface-appropriate cleaning and disinfection product listed on the EPA's List-N database.
Spills should be cleaned up as soon as possible, and vomit should be treated as contamination--the spot must be cleaned and disinfected immediately after quarantining off and venting out the general area.
In-person classroom education provides students with social, emotional, educational, and often nutritional requirements that distance learning cannot substitute for nor replace.
SARS-CoV-2 is far from the only challenge complicating the existence of a safe and healthy learning environment.
Implementing proven enhanced cleaning, targeted disinfection, and high-compliance handwashing programs has been shown to significantly reduce the presence and spread of a wide range of pathogens and pathogenic bacteria, typically resulting in increased and highly desirable educational outcomes.
Outsourcing is a proven method for quickly onboarding highly in-demand custodial and facilities maintenance services at a fraction of the cost of managing a similar service in-house.
If you would like more information regarding the effectiveness of high-performance infection prevention and control measures, or if you would like to schedule a free, no-obligation onsite assessment of your facility's custodial needs, contact us today for a free quote!
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