How Schools & Daycare Centres Can Have the Highest Hygiene Levels

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, schools and daycare centres were seen as high risk in terms of spreading pathogens. With all those children, it can be a challenge to reach and maintain the highest hygiene levels. But with the right approaches, then the spread of bacteria, viruses and other issues can be controlled.

Protection through hygiene

The COVID-19 outbreak has taught us all a valuable lesson – that cleaning and hygiene levels are key to managing a virus.  It has also highlighted the different factors that play a part in this system of cleaning and the issues that can arise with them.  That’s why understanding the principles and systems of effective cleaning sequences is so important.

Step 1: The Risk Analysis

The path to good hygiene in a school or daycare centre starts with a risk analysis.  Many of these institutions will have had first-hand experience with this due to the pandemic and lessons have been learned.  But it is still a good exercise to carry out regularly, especially once the focus on COVID-19 has eased a little.

Questions that need to be asked, especially after a closure due to an outbreak, include:

  • How can the spread of germs from children and adults be prevented?
  • What are the weak spots where cleaning and hygiene processes may have failed?
  • Could the workload of cleaning jobs be altered to allow some areas to be less clean and others to have more focus based on risk?

An example could be that less dusting to remove sand from the floor is done in favour of disinfecting all the desk surfaces.  The aim is to spot areas of weakness and to see if the current cleaning task list needs to be altered to handle these.

Simple cleaning charts can be used to detail what needs to be cleaned and when.  Colour areas marked for dust-binding or wet wiping so that everyone is aware of what needs to be done.

Step 2: Implementation

While the risk analysis will highlight the problems, it isn’t until the implementation happens that practical issues might arise.

Let’s say you are reopening a classroom after an outbreak in that age group forced it to shut.  Then a deep clean will eradicate 90% of the viruses and other bacteria that may be present.  It is also important to look at the details of the room.  If there are sinks, for example, then all taps and drains need to be rinsed as stagnant water is an infection risk.

Day to day use

Part of implementation is studying day to day use of areas and if this impacts the cleaning as planned.  When you have small children, there’s the inevitability that hands go to mouths and then onto surfaces.  That’s why it is important to regular disinfect areas such as door handles, accessible windows, cloakroom areas and other surfaces.

But it is also important to use cleaning products that don’t leave a residue that the children can pick up.  So alcohol dries without residue while peroxide decays.

Also factor in adult-only areas for cleaning such as staff rooms and kitchens.  Areas such as fridges, coffee machines and vending machines all need regular cleaning.

What to clean with

Surface cleaning is best done with a microfibre cloth and spray bottles filled with disinfectant for manual surface cleaning.

Generally, blue cloths are used for surfaces and red cloths for toilets to avoid any mix-up.  Methods such as the 8-fold or 16-fold can ensure the cloth is always cleaned with a fresh area and germs are not carried from one room to another.  This systematic folding and unfolding allow the maximum use of the cloth.

Floor cleaning daily should involve a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter and can pick up and retain those microorganisms.  It is fine to manually wipe floors to grab the thick of dust and dirt.

 

Regularly wet floor cleaning should happen but no buckets should be used as these can spread the pathogens.  Instead, a microfibre mop cloth is used for each room cleaned then chemo-thermal or thermal disinfection takes place on the used cloth to allow for reuse.  This is at a temperature of 60 degrees C or the cloths must be disposed of.

Cleaning large floor areas such as sports halls or canteens, then a scrubber drier is the best option.  They vacuum dirt immediately which makes them a very hygienic option. Scrubber dryers can also be used to disinfect large floor areas – contact us for details on the new Kärcher scrubber dryer disinfection system.

Step 3: Check and Improve

All schools and daycare centres should have a system that allows for checks on cleaning processes and ways to advise about improvements required.

A cleaning protocol measures what work has been done and any tasks that could not be performed and why.  It can be checked to see when cleaning was done and random tests can check to see how effective this has been.

An ATP test is one way to see if a surface has the required level of hygiene.  This measures the amount of adenosine triphosphate which is left by people, animals and any living beings and uses it to see how clean a surface is.

If the surface isn’t clean enough or time issues are being raised about the cleaning protocols, then an assessment can be carried out about changes.  Sometimes, it is a case of cleaning the most important things and allowing other areas to slide a little.  An example could be cleaning windows inside where they are regularly touched at the expense of regular cleaning of the outside where there is no contact.

Reopening after an outbreak

Outbreaks have been part of life during COVID-19 but it is worth reiterating the process if the facility does have an outbreak of any kind of virus or bacteria.

Hygiene measures should be intensified with cleaning first then disinfection following.  Chemicals should be used to carry out intensive cleaning on surfaces to ensure there is nothing left alive on them.

Equipment can be used to clean floors including those that have spray mist as long as they are used while the operator wears suitable PPE to protect them.  A mask should also be worn while spraying disinfectants and the room well ventilated.  It should also be shut off from public access.

If the use of chemicals is to be avoided, then steam cleaners are the best option.  High-temperature steam can eradicate viruses and bacteria as they emerge at around 100 degrees C and only cool as they hit surfaces.  Using a nozzle to move the steam over surfaces closely is the most effective approach with 30 seconds of cleaning in one area ideal.

Outside the building, hot water high-pressure cleaners with steam can be used to clean.

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