Keeping Schools Safe During COVID-19

Keeping Schools Safe During COVID-19

Maintaining teachers and students' safety and wellness during the ongoing health emergency is a top priority for school administrators and janitorial service providers in educational facilities throughout the country.

Keeping Schools Safe During COVID-19

Maintaining Classroom Cleanliness and Safety During COVID-19

Schools and classrooms are hotbeds for pathogens, which can spread rapidly, even with an introduction point of one or two contaminated individuals--a fact recently made painfully clear in a classroom hygiene experiment conducted by YouTuber Mark Rober.

According to Men's Health Magazine;

In order to demonstrate the importance of practicing good hygiene and help prevent the spread of COVID-19, YouTuber Mark Rober just conducted an experiment showing just how easily and quickly germs can spread in groups.

He used a powder called Glo Germ, which, like real life germs, is invisible and spreads from surface to surface through contact.

The teacher was doused with the invisible powder prior to the school day beginning, and shook hands with three of the children, but didn't touch any of the rest.

The class then went ahead as usual.

At recess, Rober applied some of the Glo Germ powder to the hands of another child.

By lunchtime, after beginning with just one teacher and one student, the powder could be seen via blacklight all over the classroom, including on desks, equipment, and the teacher's phone.

This Classroom Experiment Demonstrates Just How Fast Germs Can Spread

Maintaining a safe and healthy classroom requires:

  • Identifying, then regularly cleaning and disinfecting germ hotspots.
  • Determining and applying the safest cleaning and disinfection products for classroom use, and;
  • Training custodial staff in proper cleaning procedures to avoid cross-contamination.


Germ Hot Spots in Classrooms

Germ hot spots, also known as high-touch surfaces, are places so regularly touched by human hands that they become hotbeds for the presence, growth, and transmission of germs.

Schools are filled with them.

In just classrooms, some of the most commonly cited germ hot spots include:

  • The tops of desks
  • Water fountain handles
  • Light switches
  • Sinks and handwashing stations
  • Computer equipment, specifically the mouse and keyboard

These areas must be cleaned regularly with a commercial-grade detergent and disinfected, often several times per day, with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved disinfectant wipe certified to remove COVID-19, Influenza, Norovirus, and other commonly transmitted pathogens.

However, statistically, student areas are not the most germ-covered areas in a classroom--teacher's desks are.

As a matter of fact, the teacher's workspaces may well be the most germ covered surface in contemporary business settings.

According to CBS News;

Average bacteria per square inch of workspace surfaces ranged from 17,800 for teachers to 900 for lawyers, according to the report, which doesn't specify which bacteria were found.

Telephones are the workplace's top spots for bacteria, according to Gerba's team.

Next are desks, computer keyboards and computer mice.

Many office workers eat at their desks, munching on lunch or snacking as they churn through their chores.

That habit may be convenient, but it can be a bacteria magnet

Your Desk Is A 'Bacteria Cafeteria'

To combat this issue, teachers will need to police their own behavior, ensure their desks and equipment are sanitized regularly, and practice recommended hand hygiene throughout the day.


Cleaning and Disinfecting Safely

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, green cleaning in schools was making significant strides.

The progress was due to increasing recognition of classroom cleanliness and toxic chemical exposure in student and teacher attendance and performance.

In general, what was discovered was that cleaner classrooms, sanitized with safer products, resulted in better outcomes for students over the short and long-term.

Unfortunately, fears surrounding COVID-19 transmission curbed that progress in favor of rapidly killing the virus as aggressively as possible, which often led to the over-application of toxic disinfectant products.

According to a recent article published by the Lexington Herald Leader;

[...] we must understand the risks in using traditional chemical disinfects.

Consumer Reports warns that disinfectants contain EPA registered pesticides that can lead to asthma with long-term exposure.

Children are at even greater risk. University of Washington School of Public Health reports that some disinfectants can “harm reproductive health or may cause cancer if too much exposure occurs.”

Furthermore, a 2019 study of a large cohort of U.S. female nurses found that regular exposure to chemical disinfectants during cleaning put them at higher risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Moreover, if toxic disinfectants can be harmful to people one must question their effects on the environment.

As we use disinfectants to stop coronavirus transmission, we also have to weigh the risks

Fortunately, among the exhaustive list of products registered with the EPA and deemed effective against SARS-CoV-2, as well as other common pathogens, numerous commercial-grade products and active ingredients that are considered safer for use in classrooms and for the environment are present, including:

  • Clorox Commercial Solutions Disinfecting Bio Stain & Odor Remover
  • Clorox Pet Solutions Advanced Disinfecting Stain & Odor Remover
  • Lysol Hydrogen Peroxide Action Multi-Purpose Cleaner, Oxygen Splash
  • Lysol Hydrogen Peroxide Bathroom Cleaner, Cool Spring Breeze
  • Lysol Hydrogen Peroxide Multi-Purpose Cleaner, Citrus Sparkle Zest
  • Lysol Hydrogen Peroxide Multi-Purpose Cleaning Wipes, Oxygen Splash
  • Lysol Power Bathroom Cleaner, Island Breeze
  • Purell Multi-Surface Disinfectant, Fragrance-Free
  • Seventh Generation Disinfectant Spray, Eucalyptus, Spearmint & Thyme
  • Seventh Generation Disinfectant Spray, Fresh Citrus & Thyme
  • Seventh Generation Disinfectant Spray, Lavender Vanilla & Thyme
  • Seventh Generation Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner, Lemongrass Citrus Scent
  • Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner, Lemongrass Citrus Scent
  • Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes, Lemongrass Citrus Scent
  • Windex Multi-Surface Disinfectant Cleaner
  • Windex Multi-Surface Disinfectant Cleaner, Glade Rainshower
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Citric acid
  • L-lactic acid
  • Caprylic acid (octanoic acid)
  • Thymol



Training Saves Lives

Poor cleaning practices are deadly cleaning practices.

Inadequately trained cleaning personnel are often responsible for unintentionally mixing toxic chemicals, resulting in deadly chemical clouds, and lack the knowledge and skills necessary to properly clean and disinfect a facility while preventing cross-contamination from room to room and surface to surface--one of the primary transmission methods of germs around the world.

To ensure the highest standards of cleanliness and safety are adhered to:

  • Create and review standard operating procedures for all buildings, special-use rooms such as gyms, locker rooms, and cafeterias, and for each shift to ensure everyone understands their responsibilities and how to address issues and discrepancies.
  • Publish and routinely review safety data sheets for all chemicals stored and used in the facility, and drill the process for accidental exposure and other potentially hazardous situations, and;
  • Instruct service providers on the proper cleaning method, the dangers of cross-contamination, and how to avoid contaminating freshly cleaned surfaces and rooms.


References & Resources



Maintaining safe and healthy learning environments is a task that will far outlast the pandemic, so it is vital that we maintain the perspective that cleaning methods, regularity, chemicals, and quality have a direct impact on long and short-term occupant health and performance--not just in school, but in life after graduation.

Another factor that has a direct impact on cleaning quality and occupant safety is the availability of skilled and motivated cleaning service providers--a difficult task in the best of times.

Outsourcing to a highly trained and dedicated service provider is a proven method for ensuring the highest cleanliness and safety standards.

Contact us today and discover why Vanguard Cleaning Systems® is the Standard of Clean® for businesses throughout Northwest Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, dial 918-960-4450

In Arkansas, dial 479-717-2410

In Missouri, dial 417-812-9777

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Ozarks.

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Ozarks.