If you have ever gone through the first year of preschool with children, you probably understand that schools can a breeding ground for germs like perfect little petri dishes. My kids each spent their first year of school bringing home the various colds and flus that were making the rounds that season and it is little wonder why. With children, you get constant fingers in the mouth, fingers in the nose, hands wiping mouths and faces. With learning so hands-on, schools can create the perfect storm for the easy spread of the flu and other illness-causing germs, viruses and bacteria.
Where Should the Focus of School Cleaning Be?
Because school cleaning is a focus of many janitorial companies, the ISSA, the World Cleaning Industry Association, conducted several studies to determine which areas of school were the dirtiest. That way, committed school cleaning services companies could focus their efforts and insure cleaner, safer schools. So where were schools the dirtiest? The findings may surprise you.
In a typical elementary school, the classrooms were found to be more germ-laden than the restrooms.
- Desktops and computer mice were 3-4 times dirtier than toilets. Not surprising considering they are rarely cleaned except visibly soiled.
- Athletic mats are extremely filthy in part because they are often cleaned with dirty mops that just spread the sweat, dirt and germs around.
- Touch points (door knobs, hand railings and other often touched shared surfaces) are frequently neglected in school cleaning programs.
- The appearance of the most and least contaminated surface hardly differed, in fact, most would probably have passed a visual inspection.
Proper Cleaning of Touchpoints Can Reduce the Spread of the Flu
The research also confirmed what should be obvious, touch points are where disease is most commonly transferred from person to person. Many school cleaning services were not spending enough time or cleaning with enough frequency, these high touch points that were likely to spread disease and infection. For example, not enough school cleaning programs were regularly cleaning shared classroom computers, even though they are common touch points that can be expose students to infectious disease.
Effective school cleaning isn’t just about clean floors, it must be centered around student and facility health and disease prevention. More time must be dedicated to cleaning touch points because we know “hand to eye, nose, and mouth” is how most diseases are spread.
Careful school cleaning isn’t about paranoia or being a germaphobe, it has real implications for student health and performance. A study out of Arizona State University showed that when classroom surfaces, including desktops, were cleaned regularly and properly, illness-related absenteeism was significantly reduced. With the link between absenteeism and standardized test scores, a quality school cleaning company can have a far-reaching impact on your school’s performance and the health of your students and staff.