School Cleaning: Reducing the Impact of This Year’s Flu Season
School is back in session which means before long it will be that dreaded time of year again, flu season. If you’ve ever had children, you understand that schools are an incredibly effective and efficient breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria and viruses. Just a few sick kids in school and disease causing germs are spread around your campus faster than you can say low scoring test results. Children are effective carriers bringing to both school and home everything from the common cold to stomach viruses and more. When we say kids love “hands on” learning, we aren’t kidding. They put their hands anywhere and everywhere, from their noses and mouths to your facility getting more and more kids sick at record pace. Without careful cleaning, your school could get hit hard this flu and cold season.
Research Shows That Your School Cleaning May Not be as Good as You Think
The ISSA, or International Sanitary and Supply Association, has conducted several studies about the bacterial and viral load in the average elementary school classroom to put together better cleaning guidelines. With this information, professional school cleaning services can focus on cleaning areas that will have the highest impact on reducing the spread of classroom pathogens. So, what areas are the dirtiest and where should you commercial cleaning company be cleaning the most?
- The average elementary school classroom has a higher bacterial load than most restrooms, even those found on campus.
- Contaminated versus non-contaminated surfaces appeared to be the same on visual inspection indicating that they had been cleaned by not sanitized.
- Computer mice were found to possess a bacterial and viral load nearly four times higher than that of most toilets.
- Key touch points (including but not limited to hand railings, door knobs and other high traffic surfaces) where commonly neglected by school cleaning programs.
- Athletic equipment, especially athletic mats had the highest bacterial load of any single object in the school as a result of being cleaned with dirty mops, which just spread around filth.
- In general, most schools suffer from having a superficial level of cleanliness but a low or non-existent level of sanitation in core problematic areas.
Targeted Cleaning of Touch Points Reduces Bacterial Transmission
The ISSA’s extensive research revealed something that intuition already told us, touch points were the most common way that disease was being transferred from person to person in a school. Simply put, many school cleaning services do not spend enough time or clean with enough frequency to keep these high traffic touch points from being ground zero for a host of different infections and illnesses. For instance, it was found that many school cleaning services were not regularly cleaning and sanitizing shared electronics such as computers despite extensive scientific evidence that indicates they are one of the most commonly contaminated areas in a school campus.
To be an effective school cleaning service, you have to realize that having a surface or area look clean and be clean are two very different things. When we walk into a classroom, odds are it will appear to be clean, after all, what school district wants to be known for having visually dirty classrooms? But, proper cleaning goes beyond this superficial layer and requires knowledge of key touch points and frequent, proper sanitization habits to help prevent the spread of disease among students.
Not only does proper cleaning help keep students healthy, it has a number of measurable benefits in different areas of the school. For example, a study based in Arizona State University demonstrated that when common touch points such as desktops were regularly and properly cleaned and sanitized, that classroom absenteeism decreased significantly. Why is this important, you may ask? Absenteeism and standardized testing scores are directly correlated. The more days a student is in class, the higher their scores tend to be showing how impactful proper cleaning can be on the performance of your school.
The Right Company for the Job
What can you do to find a commercial cleaning company capable of cleaning for health in your school? The first step would be to look for prospective school cleaning companies that have been awarded the CIMS or CIMS-GB certification. This stringent and rigorous accreditation is only awarded to companies that consistently demonstrate their ability to provide high quality service that meets the criteria laid out by the ISSA. Of course, sorting through different companies even with your list significantly shortened by this tip can be time consuming.
With a short list of ISSA CIMS certified school cleaning companies, you can at least rest assured that they are capable of effective school cleaning. Then you can search those companies for the best overall partner for your individual district or facility. Looking for help or a change in your school cleaning services? Is in-house school cleaning no longer working for you? Call Stathakis today at (800)278-1884 to find out how you can get school cleaning services that are effective meeting the health and wellness needs of your school as well as your budget.