School Cleaning and Disinfection Checklist After COVID-19
California schools will reopen in late August and September 2020. Schools had been closed since March 2020 as an effort to protect students, teachers, and staff from possible exposure to COVID-19. Now that schools are planning to resume a regular schedule, school cleanings and disinfections are critical.
In addition to more frequent cleanings and disinfection of school properties, school districts will implement new protective measures. Daily school sanitations will occur. Masks will be worn, and smaller class sizes will allow students to remain at least six feet apart.
Some area school districts will accommodate parents’ requests for a combination of in-person classes and distance learning. But for those schools that will hold in-person classes, administrators should adhere to a cleaning and disinfection checklist to prevent rampant coronavirus infections.
How does the coronavirus spread?
Health officials have informed the public and school administrators how COVID-19 spreads: through human respiratory droplets. An infected individual may cough, sneeze or speak, which allows respiratory droplets to contaminate his immediate surroundings or infect people within six feet of distance.
Person-to-person contact is the primary way the coronavirus spreads. However, touching contaminated surfaces and then touching one’s eyes, nose or mouth also transmits the virus into one’s respiratory system. As a result, it is important to clean and disinfect high-touch areas inside schools.
What’s the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?
Cleaning and disinfecting have two distinct purposes. The former removes dirt, germs and grime from surfaces and is usually done with simple soap and water. Cleaning does not effectively kill germs, however. Cleaning should be done before the disinfecting process.
Disinfecting fails to clean but does successfully kill most germs. Different chemical disinfectants kill different types of germs, but only when the user follows the specific instructions on the label. A combination of both cleaning and disinfection helps prevent coronavirus transmissions.
Step 1: Wear PPE
Cleaning personnel should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) during cleaning of the school grounds. Cleaning staff must wear disposable gloves and gowns, even when handling trash. Wearing gloves and gowns protects the cleaning staff from possible splashes during cleaning efforts.
Proper protocol must be followed subsequent to wearing the PPE. After cleanings, the PPE should be carefully removed to avoid contaminating the surroundings, the individual wearing the PPE and other cleaning personnel. After removing PPE, staff should wash their hands with soap and water.
When gowns are unavailable, suitable alternatives are coveralls, work uniforms or aprons. When the PPE is washable, launder the clothing after each use. When handling the dirty laundry, it is important to wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.
Step 2: Follow cleaning directions
Cleaning personnel who handle chemical cleaners and disinfectants should be trained on appropriate use. Certain products will work only when the liquid remains visible for a specific length of time. Contact time may vary, ranging from one minute to 10 minutes, depending on the cleaning agent.
Chemical products should never be mixed; combining chemicals can produce noxious and even lethal fumes. Upon applying cleaners and disinfectants to school surfaces, use only the amount recommended on the label. During cleanings, staff should ensure the school environment is adequately ventilated.
Cleaning staff should store hand sanitizer away from fire and flames since the solution contains alcohol. Hand sanitizer should also be kept out of reach of young children. When children under the age of six use hand sanitizer, an adult should be present to supervise.
Step 3: Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces
An abundance of germs is present on high-touch areas inside schools, on the school bus and on the playgrounds. High-touch objects should be cleaned and disinfected at least once a day to minimize the risk of a coronavirus infection. Playgrounds should be cleaned—but not disinfected.
Examples of high-touch objects inside school buildings include doorknobs, stair rails, light switches, desks and chairs, shared computer keyboards and mice, shared toys and lunchroom tables and chairs. School bus seats and handrails should also receive regular cleaning and disinfecting.
School playgrounds require cleaning only, as disinfectants have no proven use against the coronavirus outdoors. Similarly, spraying disinfectants on school sidewalks is simply a waste of supplies, since the risk of coronavirus transmission from these types of surfaces is low.
Soft surfaces inside classrooms should be laundered, when possible, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Carpeted flooring, rugs and drapes that cannot be laundered on the warmest setting should instead be sprayed with an EPA-approved disinfectant to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Vacuum the area, as needed, using a high-efficiency particular air (HEPA) filter. Minimize the possibility of contaminated particles circulating through the school by turning off the HVAC system or room fans when vacuuming. Also, vacuum when the school is closed, or the room is empty of people.
Disinfection and Cleaning Services
Coordinated efforts between public health officials, school administrators and workplace safety experts will reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure in schools. Another way to keep your school environment free of contamination is to utilize the professional services provided by ServiceMaster EMT.
ServiceMaster EMT has over three decades of cleaning and disinfecting experience. The disinfectant and cleaning products our technicians use are EPA and CDC-approved and work effectively against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Our crews have cleaned spaces contaminated with H1N1, MRSA and tuberculosis.
Cleaning and disinfecting schools should be a priority for school officials. Keeping schools safe amidst the coronavirus outbreak will require more funding. ServiceMaster EMT offers cost-effective services to fit the budget constraints of schools while providing high-quality cleanings and disinfections.
ServiceMaster EMT crews have efficiently cleaned and disinfected a wide range of communal spaces, including hotels, hospitals, offices, and schools. We will continue to offer our affordable cleaning and disinfection services during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and well after.
Schools in California and Nevada are encouraged to consult ServiceMaster EMT for our deep cleaning and disinfection services. We are prepared to decontaminate your school grounds after a confirmed exposure to COVID-19 as well as to prevent contamination.
Give us a call at 800-376-6678 to schedule a free estimate for your next disinfection and cleaning service.