Best Practices for Controlling Infection Spread in Schools
We are sharing this information to help schools plan, prepare, and respond in the case of an infectious disease outbreak.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) virus, and we are learning more about it every day. There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. At this point, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes it. Stopping transmission (spread) of the virus through everyday practices is the best way to keep people healthy. More information on COVID-19 is available here.
The CDC reports that schools should take the following steps to prepare their facilities to act in case of a reported COVID-19 case in their community.
- Review, update, and implement emergency operating plans (EOPs).
- Develop with information-sharing partners, such as primary care clinics, local health departments, and hospital systems.
- Monitor and plan for absenteeism of students and staff.
- Establish procedures for students and staff who are sick at school.
- Perform routine environmental cleaning.
- Create communications plans for use with your school community.
For more in-depth information, read the Centers for Disease Control’s full guidance here.
What disinfectant products are most effective to stop the spread of infectious diseases?
Please note that there are no approved EPA-registered disinfectants against COVID-19.
Please review the EPA Statement here and the suggested disinfectants most likely to be effective against COVID-19 here.
Where should we focus our disinfecting and cleaning efforts?
High-traffic areas, such as front offices, nurses offices, cafeterias and lunch rooms, staff break rooms, locker rooms, and bathrooms should be disinfected daily.
Pay special attention to high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, water fountains, keyboards, bathroom sink faucets, and desk/tabletops in high-traffic areas.
Lastly, if you utilize a transportation service for your students, work with your school bus or vehicle operators to regularly clean and disinfect seats and surfaces.
Download these informational posters to share with your school community.
Centers for Disease Control
Green cleaning is cleaning to protect health that does not harm the environment. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require cleaning products to list ingredients, and as a result many chemical cleaners contain a number of known human toxics or carcinogens. Fumes from some cleaning products have been shown to induce asthma in otherwise healthy individuals.
The environment has a much greater effect on children than it does on adults. Children breathe more air and drink more water per pound of body weight, and their organ systems are still developing. Research has shown that attendance and test scores are lower due to poor indoor air quality. Since children spend so much of their time at school, it is important that the school environment is healthy so that children are not at risk of missing valuable learning time.
Children who play on the floor often put their hands in their mouths, making them more likely to expose themselves to chemicals via hand-to-mouth contact. Residues from cleaning products can also cause burns or rashes on children’s skin, especially if the product was used incorrectly or in excess.
Click HERE to learn more, including helpful EPA and CDC links.
Furthermore, green cleaning is good for the environment. Approximately 23 million tons of carbon emissions would be saved if all schools in the United States switched to green cleaning techniques. It also saves money. One school district in New York saved $365,000 after switching to a green cleaning program. This frees up funds to be allocated towards educational programs rather than routine building maintenance.
It is important to choose products that protect human health. Choose products that:
- Have been certified by a third party (such as Green Seal, Eco Logo or Safer Choices
- Contain no known or probable carcinogens
- Have a neutral pH
- Are free of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which easily evaporate into the air
- Are not packaged in aerosol or spray cans
- Are non-irritating to eyes or skin
- Do not contain fragrances
Green cleaning is beneficial for children, employees, buildings, and school districts’ budgets. In school districts where gree cleaning is already incorporated, test scores and attendance are up and costs are down. Urge your children’s school district to adopt green cleaning procedures. Contact us to learn how you can make an impact.