Rethinking classroom cleaning to better meet post-Covid needs

Rethinking classroom cleaning to better meet post-Covid needs

  • April 25, 2022
  • in Blog
  • 129

As the UK emerges from the shadows of the pandemic, and young pupils return to classrooms, student and staff welfare remains of the utmost importance for educational establishments. SBFM explores the critical supporting role that commercial cleaning and soft facilities management (FM) will play in keeping schools and education facilities open.

Face to face learning is undoubtedly the most beneficial option for the UK’s youth, but amidst a global pandemic and an ever-growing array of COVID variants, many parents remain concerned about sending their children back to early years settings and schools.

While there have been considerable improvements in absence rates, even as recently as January and February 2022 the pandemic continued to reduce pupils’ attendance in many schools.

Attendance in all state-funded schools was 89.1% on 3 February, up from 87.4% on 20 January[1]. While, on 26 January 12% of paid staff in open group- or school-based settings were absent from work due to COVID-19-related reasons, and 84% of children booked into a place attended an early year setting[2].

Managing children’s and parent’s fears around returning to school, therefore, has become an essential duty for the sector. Particularly with exam season fast approaching, educational establishments can ill afford any elevated levels of absenteeism, or even worse full closures.

Much has been made about the importance of hygiene in school and early years environments, but what role can commercial cleaning and soft FM services play in ensuring pupil and staff welfare?

COVID prevention

By establishing a robust Covid-19 risk management strategy, educational establishments can further mitigate the risk of secondary localised outbreaks within their facilities and provide additional piece of mind to pupils, parents and staff alike.

Targeted cleaning, using the latest technologies, has been shown to protect against the risk of microbial infection and provide a heightened level of hygiene in buildings. Indeed, specialist cleaning solutions, when applied correctly to surfaces and touchpoints, are proven to provide a 30-day protective shield against COVID-19.

It is for this reason that The Department for Education’s Schools COVID-19 operational guidance, published in January 2022, has urged schools to maintain appropriate cleaning regimes. This includes the regular cleaning of areas and equipment (for example, twice per day), with a particular focus on frequently touched surfaces.

Reduced sickness levels for both staff and students

Naturally, Coronavirus has been the prime focus when it some to absenteeism and sickness rates in both primary and secondary schools, but common illnesses such as norovirus, influenza, and gastroenteritis (stomach flu), continue to impact students and teachers equally.

Heightened levels of hygiene will help to reduce sickness levels for both staff and students by preventing the spread of such infections. By enhancing the frequency and standard of cleaning regimes within schools, children can be provided with safer, healthier spaces in which to learn and thrive.

Prevent the spread of infections in an early year’s settings

The risk of the spread of infections and illnesses is increased in any shared environment. In early years settings – where a combination of the low state of immunity of young children, the close proximity of pupils and practitioners, and the increased danger of contamination through share toys and resources, increases exposure – this is particularly evident.

Effective cleaning regimes have a fundamental role to play in controlling infection rates in nurseries and childcare environments. A carefully planned and tailored schedule can prevent germs spreading on common surfaces, as well as communal equipment and toys, but it must be equally flexible to your needs.

For instance, while regular routine cleaning of equipment and resources in each area should form the foundation of any schedule, an out-of-hours full premises deep cleaning service may also be required during infection outbreaks. This will often involve advanced anti-microbial disinfecting of large areas, the deep cleaning of multiple surfaces and touchpoints, and even carpet and upholstery cleaning.

Your trusted partner in education

While practitioners undoubtedly have a fundamental role in protecting the welfare of students, with more rigorous infection control measures in place, it is important that schools recognise that cleaning is a skilled undertaking that requires the expertise of an experienced FM partner.

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 our education page or contact SBFM today