What will the new normal in education cleaning look like?
As schools reopen across the country, the new normal is taking shape. Classrooms reconfigured to accommodate social distancing. Masks required in common areas. Public health authorities recommending high-frequency, touchpoint cleaning and sanitization to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 through surface transmission.
Setting standards for visual cleaning will be very important. A dirty facility will raise concerns around cleaning practices and fears of contamination. In addition, you need a robust cleaning-for-health program, with the right specifications, to ensure your facility is both clean and safe.
Understand the what, when, where and how to clean for COVID-19
The key to a successful COVID-19 surface-management cleaning program is a detailed plan of what, when, where and how to clean. Touchpoint cleaning frequency should be a function of traffic flow and other risk factors.
Create a common touchpoint checklist, including door handles, touch screens, push plates, light switches, handrails, washrooms (faucet levers, towel dispensers), food court trays, vending machines.
Ensure your custodians use the right cleaning methodology for each surface. Dirty surfaces need to be cleaned before they are disinfected (the virus can survive under dust particles). For some surfaces, the disinfectant should be sprayed on a clean lint-free rag first (e.g. elevator buttons).
Custodians need proper COVID-19 training. Poorly trained cleaning staff may increase the likelihood of spreading the virus. No special PPE is typically required for normal tasks; however, face masks are recommended, along with proper hand washing protocols. Equipment and materials must be correctly sanitized or disposed of.
Although there are no cost-effective ways to measure COVID-19 contamination in an active space, ATP swab and Pathfinder imaging tests are good indicators of biomass concentration and your cleaning program’s effectiveness.
If a case of COVID-19 is confirmed in your facility, use a biohazard specialist with a proven disinfection plan.
Tell your stakeholders what steps you are taking to keep them safe
Communicate the steps you are taking to keep your facility clean and safe to help build trust and comfort. Your messaging should include:
- Care and concern messages about the health and safety of students, staff, faculty and visitors.
- What you and your custodians are doing to clean and disinfect buildings (and why).
- A reminder of their personal responsibility, including handwashing, social-distancing, and care of their personal space.
- Contact information for feedback, questions, and concerns.
Implementing and auditing the right cleaning-for-health program is an essential part of your duty of care to keep stakeholders safe in the COVID-19 environment. DCS has developed best practices, cleaning specifications and standards to keep your facility CLEAN + SAFE ©. DCS also supports and helps implement the Global Biorisk Advisory Council certification program (GBAC STAR).