Campus Health 101: How to Clean Schools During a Pandemic

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The ongoing global pandemic has disrupted the lives of many people across the globe, including schools. According to statistics from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the pandemic has resulted in 172 countrywide closures at the beginning of April of this year.

Several months later, however, many of the countries are slowing reopening their campuses for students. Before schools can accommodate students, they must follow strict hygiene measures.

How can educational institutions keep their campuses clean and hygienic? Here are seven suggestions to help them achieve this goal:

1Understand the Difference between Sanitizing, Disinfecting and Cleaning

These three processes are not interchangeable, and they’re all required to keep campuses safe and clean. Here’s a breakdown of what each approach does:

  • Cleaning gets rid of impurities and germs on objects and surfaces. It involves the use of water and a cleaning agent, such as detergent, soap, bleach and baking soda, to physically eliminate the germs and dirt from surfaces. The goal of cleaning is to remove the germs that can increase the likelihood of transmitting infection.
  • Disinfecting means eradicating germs. This works by using chemicals designed to destroy germs on surfaces and objects. When paired with cleaning, it can kill germs to further minimize the spread of infection.
  • Sanitizing reduces the number of germs to a safe level, as assessed by public health requirements or standards. This entails disinfecting or cleaning surfaces to minimize the transmission of infection.

2Clean and Disinfect Frequently Touched Surfaces and Objects

Students and teachers on campus touch various objects in just one school day. The campus cleaning staff, therefore, should clean and disinfect surfaces touched often.

Janitors and other cleaning employees must adhere to the school’s standard and stringent procedures for regular cleaning and disinfection. This typically involves the daily sanitation of frequently touched objects, such as computer keyboards, school tote trays, doorknobs, desks, preschool or nursery toys, telephones and faucet handles. These procedures may also require the disinfection of specific areas of the campus, such as the bathrooms and hallways.

3Come up with a Cleaning Schedule

Equally important to sanitation procedures is a cleaning schedule for the campus janitorial staff.

A well-written cleaning schedule should consist of the following details:

  • The employee in charge of cleaning and disinfecting specific buildings or rooms
  • The school-specific process for cleaning objects and surfaces
  • The sanitation frequency (every day, during holidays, once a week, etc)

4Clean and Disinfect Objects Properly

Janitorial staff should follow the label directions printed on the disinfectants and products they’re using. Examples include washing surfaces with general household cleaners to remove germs followed by a disinfectant to kill the microbes.

If the surface doesn’t appear visibly filthy, the staff could clean it with products that remove and kill germs. Make sure to follow the directions on the label, as these products may require a different cleaning procedure. Disinfectants, for instance, need to stay on the surface for a certain period (usually three to five minutes).

When cleaning electronic items, such as keyboards, mice and monitors, use disinfecting wipes. Depending on the directions, the school cleaners may need to use a few wipes to keep the surface wet and the disinfecting agents do their work.

5Handle Waste Correctly

Janitorial staff should follow the school’s standards on waste handling and disposal. When handling any kind of school waste, school cleaners should wear protective gear, such as disposable gloves and face masks. They should also throw away disposable items used to clean the trash and the surfaces.

Also, the cleaning staff should refrain from touching used tissues and waste products when emptying trash cans and other types of waste containers. If they accidentally touched the garbage, they need to wash their hands thoroughly using soap and water.

6Use Cleaning Products Safely 

School cleaners should pay close attention to the hazard and attention labels printed on the cleaning product. If they will be working with bleach solutions or any disinfectants that contain harsh chemicals, they may need to use eye protection or gloves.

When working with disinfectants and cleaners, the janitorial staff should not combine these products unless the labels say so. Mixing certain cleaning agents, such as ammonia cleaners and chlorine bleach, can release toxic chemicals that cause severe respiratory problems or even death.

7Encourage Students and Teachers to Practice Cleanliness

Janitors shouldn’t be the only ones keeping the school clean. Teachers and students should do their part to maintain cleanliness while they’re staying inside the campus. This can be as simple as throwing trash properly and practicing good toilet hygiene.

Schools need to keep their campuses clean and hygienic during the ongoing health crisis. Cleanliness is instrumental to limiting germ exposure and maintaining a safe environment for everyone.