It is widely known that schools are wonderful places for bacteria and viruses to flourish as the warm and close quarters of a classroom – and even closer intimacy of friends’ groups who play, eat and learn together – form the perfect environment for these micro-organisms. In normal times, as many as 35,000 students per day will be absent due to illness and 15,000 teachers per year are signed off work ill. And these are not normal times.

Special Circumstances

While the common cold is perhaps one of the most transmissible viruses out there, it is a very successful one, in that its hosts (us) do not terribly mind being infected by it. Therefore, we carry on our usual activities perhaps suffering a runny nose and a cough, but otherwise basically all right, allowing the virus to spread well. Which is all a virus really wants from life. Covid-19 is a successful virus in one way: it is very infectious, spreading rapidly, helped by the lengthy incubation period during which time (some two to five days) a person can be infectious but not yet feeling any symptoms. Where it is less successful is in the effects of the virus on the hosts – while some people readily recover from Covid-19, for most it is very draining and in a small percentage can be very serious indeed. Therefore, we cannot afford to be sanguine about allowing the illness to take hold in a school – but then, ideally, no disease should be able to spread very easily through a school community now we know why is it important to keep your school clean.

Take Care With Young Lungs

When it comes to keeping schools clean, while rigour is needed in all cases, there are different cleaning needs for high schools than there are for infant schools – for example, few infants will leave a lipstick kiss on a mirror, while not too many high school students try to lick the tables!

But whichever age students the school has great care must be taken to use cleaning products that are effective but completely safe. Harsh chemicals and industrial-grade cleaning supplies can sometimes produce VOCs (volatile organic chemicals) which, when breathed in, can cause headaches, respiratory problems, or irritate the eyes and throat. Repeated exposure to harmful chemicals can lead to cancer, asthma and other long-term, life-limiting conditions.

What Products to Use?

School cleaning products used should be hypoallergenic and completely safe for use in all areas. It can be too easy to go all in and use harsh, abrasive chemicals such as ammonia and bleach to ensure surfaces are scoured clean of germs – but those chemicals themselves are harmful to health, especially if breathed in and are even more dangerous if accidentally mixed to create outright poisons. Volatile organic compounds (VOC) can be released by some cleaning products, and these can be very harmful indeed. Professional cleaners are trained in the use of cleaning products and will be able to choose the products that will work effectively in a school, without setting off allergies or causing harm to school-children.

Detailed Cleaning Plan

In all cases, a detailed cleaning plan can be a school’s friend. Observation should be undertaken to pinpoint the school’s most used areas, and have them clean thoroughly and often, while less used areas can be left for more periodical cleaning. After all, there is no point in repeatedly scrubbing an entirely unused classroom, for example.

As part of this plan on how to keep the school clean, allowance should be made for proactive cleaning. Many spills and dirty streaks can be entirely removed, as long as the stain is treated promptly, with appropriate cleaning materials. Often, this is within minutes or even seconds of the spill occurring which means that leaving stains for cleaning crews to take care of later can mean a permanent stain setting in. There should be an easily accessible cleaning station, packed with school-safe cleaning materials so that these accidental messes can be promptly and safely cleaned up.

Another good idea is to encourage best practices with the pupils and teachers. Encourage the prompt and appropriate disposal of unwanted food and drink, ensure that shoe scrapers and doormats are at every doorway and instil a sense of pride in the school into the children – if you care about a place, you tend to look after it!

There is no reason why a school should not be a safe and clean place for children to learn and adults to work. The spread of disease, as we are learning, is not inevitable, and with the use of the appropriate and child-friendly cleaning products and a well-trained professional cleaning team, you can enjoy peace of mind, knowing that your school is as safe as possible for your students, their parents, your staff and everyone else!

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