November 10, 2021

How to Create a Culture of “Cleaning for Health” at Your School or College

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Keeping schools and college campuses clean can contribute to better student performance and less absence, thus helping to mitigate lost learning time due to illness.

Missing schools can have a detrimental effect on students, in fact, chronic absenteeism from school is linked to overall poor performance including lower grades and graduation rates.

Therefore, keeping school facilities clean is crucial to the overall health and safety of students, staff, and educators, as well as to creating an environment conducive to continued learning and education.

Following these steps can help create a school or campus culture focused on health and wellbeing, and this can have a profound impact on learning and the success of students and teachers.

Create a Clear Cleaning Plan

Step one, make sure there is a detailed cleaning plan in place for cleaning teams to follow. Training cleaning staff and janitors on the proper process and plan to follow can help to reduce missed areas, or improper cleaning tactics.

A plan can be used as a checklist and this means facility managers can follow up on specific tasks that are crucial to creating a healthy environment—wiping down high-touch surfaces, for example.

Having a cleaning plan in place not only helps keep janitors on track, but it can help to eliminate any confusion regarding what needs to be done each day. If the team is confused or not sure where to start, time can be wasted trying to figure these things out. Over time, this adds up.

Another important part of the plan is to make sure cleaning supplies are kept in the same location, are always fully stocked, and that janitors are trained in how to safely use chemicals and cleaning agents. Improper use can cause harmful odors or substances to be left behind.

The CDC notes that proper ventilation is necessary when using disinfectants in a school setting as the fumes can be harmful to children.

Keeping students, staff, and faculty healthy is the main concern—so making sure all cleaning materials are used correctly is a crucial step.

Use Cleaning Detergents, Disinfectants, and Sanitizers Correctly

Soap or detergent and water are the first step in making sure surfaces and communal areas are clean. Using soap and water cleans the surface and according to the CDC can help lessen the likelihood of spreading infection.

Disinfectants do not actually clean the surface, but they kill germs and bacteria that rest on surfaces, and this can help eliminate the spread of germs and infection, especially in high-touch areas.

Sanitizers also do not clean but help to kill germs and bacteria, although they have a more limited range in terms of types of germs and bacteria they target versus disinfectants.

The CDC recommends cleaning surfaces in a school setting at least once a day and using disinfectants in high-touch areas and with proper precautions based on the specific school setting. For example, in elementary schools, disinfectants should be used with caution and in areas that can be or are well ventilated.

Make Handwashing a Priority

At this point, we all know how important it is to wash our hands. Adopting a “hand hygiene” philosophy across campus or throughout the school district is a major step in helping to keep everyone healthy.

For K-12 students, scheduling specific times of day for handwashing or sanitizing, such as between classes, after meals, and always after using the restroom, can go a long way toward decreasing the spread of germs.

On college campuses, displaying signs and having sanitization stations across campus and in all buildings can help promote hand washing and sanitizing.

Guidelines suggest using sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol to effectively kill germs and help stop the spread of infection.

Promoting this culture across campus and throughout a school building can help keep everyone healthier.

Clean More Frequently

While this can be a tough one for already overwhelmed janitors and facilities maintenance staff, high-touch areas such as door handles, railings, sinks and faucets, desks and chairs, and other shared devices (like library computers), need to be kept clean and disinfected.

“Increase cleaning frequency during winter months to prevent against illnesses that thrive during this time, such as the cold and flu. Schedule frequent restroom cleanings throughout the school to disinfect and sanitize these germ hotspots.”

One way to help combat the extra time necessary to increase cleaning is to have students participate by providing them with disinfectant wipes.

Older students can take responsibility for wiping down any communal surface like desks, chairs, and computers before and after use. Just be sure to keep the wipes filled and the waste baskets emptied.

For younger kids, teachers may have to do some additional wiping down of surfaces throughout the day to help support janitorial staff.

Automated sinks, toilets, and soap and paper towel dispensers can all help reduce the number of objects touched throughout the day.

Another way to help cleaning staff gain some time is by adopting autonomous cleaning technology that can be used for other cleaning tasks.

For example, an autonomous floor scrubber could be used to clean large areas like gyms and cafeterias, and this can free staff to focus on high-touch surfaces.

Focus on Better Indoor Air Quality

According to research, it is estimated that children with asthma miss 10 million school days annually. Poor indoor air quality is also related to poor performance in academics.

By focusing on better indoor air quality, schools and campuses alike can help promote a healthier built environment that helps teachers and students focus on education.

One way to address this problem is by placing door mats at every entry way. Door mats help to collect dirt and debris that is tracked in on shoes from the outdoors.

“To improve IAQ, place matting at all entrances and high traffic zones of the school to prevent particulates such as dust and dirt from being tracked in the building. Matting placed inside locker rooms and exterior entryways will also help prevent soil, mud and water from traveling inside the building. To maintain fresh IAQ and clean facilities, ensure that matting is regularly laundered to remove captured debris.”

Other important steps include updating and maintaining ventilation and HVAC systems, exposing students to as much fresh air as possible, and using cleaning equipment with HEPA filters which are designed to collect and trap micro-particles.

Provide Updated and Maintained Cleaning Equipment

Not only is it frustrating for janitorial and facility maintenance staff to use outdated and broken-down equipment, but it also leads to more downtime and less effective cleaning. It can also lead to unexpected expenses.

Providing cleaning equipment available through a subscription service, like that offered by ICE Cobotics, can have multiple benefits.

First, with an ICE Cobotics all-inclusive floor cleaning equipment subscription. once the contract is up, the equipment is sent back and switched off for new equipment. Meaning, the equipment on hand will never be more than four years old (the longest subscription contract offered).

This can lead to more uptime because staff will not have to deal with issues related to deteriorating equipment.

Second, the all-inclusive subscription includes parts and maintenance. So, the predictable monthly payment allows you to budget better, but also the ICE Cobotics team helps to monitor and maintain the machine.

There is a built-in active maintenance plan—meaning, janitors and facilities maintenance teams do not need to worry about trying fix broken down equipment.

Third, the software is updated automatically. ICE Cobotics’ equipment comes integrated with i-Synergy fleet tracking software. The technology is automatically updated, and this is included at no extra charge.

For facility managers, this is a great way to keep track of equipment, the square footage cleaned each day, who has used the equipment and to track any machine alerts and notifications.

This is beneficial because managers can know when the cleaning is done and can help their teams be more efficient and productive by monitoring the use of the machines.

Making sure cleaning equipment is updated and well-maintained is a key step in staying on top of the cleaning in an educational facility.

There is a lot to do and no time to spend on finding, repairing, and dealing with broken machines.

ICE Cobotics is committed to the advancement of cleaning for health and safety. Contact Us with questions or to get started with our equipment subscription.

If you’d like to read further, we suggest: Air Quality 101: The Importance of Indoor Air Quality

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