Teaching and education has undergone a seismic shift in the past couple of years, from online learning to widespread school closures and disruption caused by absences. Throughout it all, one thing has remained constant, the need to protect the welfare of pupils and staff alike.
As schools seek to strike the perfect balance between keeping students and teachers safe and providing an effective learning environment, SBFM investigates what the future of school commercial cleaning strategies will look like and the impact they will have.
The need for heightened cleaning standards in schools and educational establishments is nothing new. Nevertheless, recent events have only served to highlight the value of enhanced hygiene practices to prevent the spread of harmful and disruptive pathogens, reduce sickness levels and keep pupils in the classroom.
An important need, particularly heeding the warning that is coming from teachers who claim the learning gap created by the pandemic will take more than 18 months to close, and the fact that nearly four in ten – 38 per cent – of teachers agree or strongly agree with banning school closures and classing them as ‘essential infrastructure’.
Aspects of the regime that were previously imposed in England, including mandatory mask-wearing in secondary classrooms and recommended twice-weekly testing, were sensible, but if we are to truly future-proof our institutions we need a more robust and practical approach to cleaning and hygiene.
Stricter and more regular cleaning protocols – particularly in areas with a large volume of traffic, high-touch surfaces, and moisture-rich environments prone to bacterial growth – will be critical to minimising transference. When paired with high-visibility cleaning operations, such an approach can provide additional assurances and restore the confidence of parents, students, and staff.
Elevated touchpoint cleaning procedures
Preventing the transmission of airborne bacteria without installing or upgrading intrusive heating, ventilation, and use of air conditioning systems, reducing indoor occupancy, or wearing a mask at all times, is virtually impossible.
Alleviating transmission through direct contact with surfaces, however, can be achieved through rigorous cleaning and sanitising regimes. Central to this is having a clear and comprehensive picture of the facilities, including high traffic areas and frequently touched surfaces. Once this is established, shift patterns can be restructured to ensure touch points and critical spaces are cleaned at suitable times, and at regular intervals.
Once the structured plan is agreed, regular touchpoint cleaning will form part of the cleaners daily cleaning schedule. To supplement routine touchpoint cleaning, and further protect against pathogens, a periodic programme of sanitisation and specialised COVID-19 fogging implemented by a core team of highly trained cleaning operatives can negate any further risk.
The 2021 ‘School Toilet Report’, a four-country study examining the experiences children encounter in relation to their school toilets, revealed that nine in ten (90%) children face issues with their school facilities, causing anxiety and even absence from school. This is despite parents stating that ‘access to clean and private toilets’ is as important as ‘teaching quality’ in schools.
Ensuring that communal washrooms deliver optimum hygiene credentials to help protect people against the virus begins with a stringent cleaning process. Regular and routine cleaning can eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses that are most often found inside a washroom including: streptococcus, E. coli, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Salmonella, shigella and norovirus
By following the correct steps and cleaning frequently touched surfaces such as sinks, toilet seats and bowls, amongst others, can prevent the spread of bacteria. The sanitisation of less obvious touchpoints such as light switches, door handles, taps, flush handles – while less obvious places to clean – can offer additional protection for pupils and staff.
Washroom floors, equally, can harbour harmful germs and need addressing. Indeed, a study by Dr Charles Gerba, a well-respected professor of virology at the University of Arizona, found that an invisible mist of flush water droplets and bacteria is projected out of the bowl during flushing and can spread almost 2.5 metres from the bowl. With bacteria able to survive on a surface for up to 24 hours, the requirement to promptly and regular clean washroom floors is obvious.
Greater efficiencies in cleaning practices
What many educational providers fail to realise is that more robust and thorough cleaning procedures do not necessarily result in additional costs. Working with an experienced commercial cleaning partner, with extensive knowledge of the sector, can aid in tailoring services to create greater efficiencies without compromising quality.
SBFM provides commercial cleaning and soft facilities management services for nurseries, schools, colleges, and universities across the UK. Our best-in-class service does not compromise on quality, delivering the sanitised premises and high-visibility cleaning operations that are critical to restoring the confidence of parents, students, and staff.
To see how we can support your education establishments, or for more information, please visit: https://sb-fm.co.uk/education-cleaning/