COVID-19 may have turned our world upside down, but the best way to stay safe is to be prepared. Two fundamental steps are more critical than ever: washing and drying hands and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. These measures can go a long way to help curb the spread of germs and create a more hygienic environment.
Here are some changes you’ll need to make to your routine to make sure you’re as safe as possible when your institution opens to students — from cleaning, to installing sanitizing stations, and communicating these new measures to your students.
Communicate Your Routine to Students and Staff
- Hand hygiene is crucial: Hands pick up and leave behind germs, so it’s vital to provide ample hand soap, water and disposable paper towels, as well as alcohol-based sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol. To properly sanitize your hands, pour a quarter-sized dollop into a cupped hand, covering all surfaces. Rub hands together and interlace your fingers, rubbing your hands rotationally. Once dry, your hands are safe.
- Post age-appropriate visual reminders that hands should be washed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds frequently during each day, especially
- Before and after eating
- After using the restroom
- After coughing, sneezing, nose-blowing or face-touching
- When entering/exiting the classroom
Remember: drying with paper towels can remove up to 77% of bacteria that remain on hands after washing.
- As much as possible, try not to share anything. But if you have to share electronic devices, books, games, learning aids, and other equipment, clean and disinfect with dry wipes between uses.
- Avoid touching your face. Teach everyone the importance of washing before/after touching the eyes, nose or mouth. If you have to sneeze or cough, use a tissue to cover your mouth then dispose of the tissue in the trash to help limit the spread of germs.
- Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect! Encourage the use of hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes on personal items like cell phones and other shared spaces. Hand sanitizers should also be placed in other high-traffic areas like entryways, classrooms, cafeterias/dining halls and offices.
Enhance the Way You Clean and Disinfect
CDC guidance says to use a 2-step, clean-and-disinfect process. Step 1 is to clean the surface with a detergent or soap and water, and Step 2 is to follow that by disinfecting the surface using EPA-registered household disinfectants. The CDC also recommends providing disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.
- Keep cleaning supplies within easy reach. The best way to maintain cleanliness is to provide enough soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, toilet paper, facial tissue, disinfectant wipes and face coverings. Poorly disinfected surfaces may serve as fomites, increasing the risk of germ transfer to people.
- Reduce clutter by removing items that are difficult to clean. This will make your rooms easier to clean.
- Focus on cleaning high-contact, shared areas and items, such as door and window handles, banisters, work surfaces such as desks and tables, bathroom facilities, remote controls, computer equipment, and light switches. Targeting “hot spots” is a key step toward helping to reduce the spread of germs. Frequently touched objects should be cleaned and disinfected at least twice a day, and between use by different groups.
- Clean shared areas in between times they are used by different groups. Sports, art, and science equipment, outdoor playground equipment and hard toys should all be disinfected. Cafeterias and classrooms also need to be cleaned. Frequent cleaning helps break the chain of germ transmission. Post a chart of a cleaning schedule to make sure that the disinfection routine is adhered to.
- Outdoor areas, like playgrounds in schools and parks generally require normal routine cleaning, but do not require disinfection.
- Do not spray disinfectant on outdoor playgrounds- it is not an efficient use of supplies and is not proven to reduce risk of COVID-19 to the public.
- Use bleach solutions; they are effective for disinfection up to 24 hours. A good formula is to use 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of room temperature water, or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of room temperature water. Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol may also be used.
What to do if you’ve had a case of COVID-19 on your premises
If someone has a fever, cough, trouble breathing or other symptoms, they should stay home and seek medical advice. You’ll need to do a deep clean of the affected areas, especially in cases where the symptomatic individual has slept somewhere or there’s visible contamination with body fluids. Cleaning staff need to wear masks, disposable gloves, and aprons – they should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds once they remove these.
DISINFECTING VS WASHING: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
- Cleaning — by using soap, detergent, or water — removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
- Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
- Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.
School administrators and principals will find everything needed for maintaining a safe, clean school in our breakroom and janitorial supplies store.