Team Clean, Inc.Team Clean, Inc.

Avoiding Classroom Germs, From Sniffles to Flu

The first and most effective defense against the flu is cleanliness.  John Rosales of the NEA outlines the five basic steps of flu-fighting in our schools:

From the first fall sniffles to the advance of flu season, educators and students can’t completely avoid being exposed to colds and viruses, but they can take actions to reduce the chances of getting sick.

We asked four experienced, award-winning custodians—those professionals on the frontlines of keeping schools clean—for their advice on minimizing the spread of germs in the classroom. Here are their top five tips:

1.         Wipe It Down

Fortunately, custodians provide a thorough cleaning of classrooms before and/or after school, but teachers and paras can help contain the spread of germs in between classes by “cleaning desktops, counters, sinks, soap and paper towel dispensers especially during a flu outbreak,” says Pat Nicholson, winner of the 2009 C.L.E.A.N. Award (Custodial Leaders for Environmental Advocacy Nationwide). “Wiping door handles and frames, walls and counters that are touched by hundreds of hands every day with an effective sanitizer and a micro fiber towel will limit the spread of viruses.”

2.         Stock Supplies and Cover Up

“Teachers and paras should keep tissues, hand sanitizer, and sanitizer wipes in classrooms for when kids sneeze or cough,” says Briana Rivera, from Saks Elementary School in Anniston, Alabama, and a runner-up in this year’s C.L.E.A.N.  Award competition. “As a preventive measure, they should talk to the kids about covering their mouths and washing their hands to contain the spread of germs.”

Steve Brooks of the Maryland State Teachers Association has spent 15 years in school maintenance. He says that classrooms with sinks should have the proper hand sanitizers to take advantage of a quick way to kill germs before they spread.

“When students cough, immediately ask them to go to the sink and wash,” says Brooks, president of the Calvert Association of Educational Support Staff. “Keep disinfector wipes in stock and continuously wipe off.”

3.         Monitor Students and Send Them Home When Appropriate

When necessary, teachers should send sick kids home.

“Paras can help keep an eye on the kids who are coughing,” says Brooks, a graduate of the ESP Leaders for Tomorrow program. “Because kids cough and keep going.”

Nicholson confirms that staff should be on the lookout for students as well as teachers with flu symptoms. “Staff with the flu should stay home as well,” he says.

4.         Minimize Objects That Attract Germs

Teachers and paraeducators should also “always work to minimize the number of objects in a classroom that are handled by students and can carry germs,” says Arnold.

Nicholson says sofas, beanbag chairs, recliners, and rugs are “asthma trigger reservoirs,” providing a home for dust, dust mites, pet dander, and pathogens which can trigger asthma attacks. Nearly one in 10 students has asthma.

“These students will benefit from the removal of these items,” Nicholson says. “This type of furniture also obstructs cleaning in your classroom.”

And while you’re at it, cut down on clutter.

“Uncluttered horizontal surfaces can be cleaned quickly and easily,” says Nicholson. “Desks and countertops collect dust and particulates. It takes custodians longer to clean surfaces covered with clutter.”

5.         Work as a Team

“Dealing with germs is a team effort,” says Brooks, who works at Patuxent High School in Lusby. “We might not get 100 percent of them, but you need to have the teacher and para supporting what custodians do in the morning and after school.”

Other vital members in this team effort include students.

“We teach kids everything else, so we can teach them how to keep from spreading germs,” Brooks adds.

This article has been edited. The original appeared here.

 

5 Ways Cleanliness Helps your Business

5 Ways Cleanliness Helps your Business

Unsanitary office, let us count the ways you sicken us: Keyboards, telephone receivers, photocopiers, shaking hands with potential customers, reheating lunch in the microwave, dropping a pen on the floor and picking it up, a visit to the restroom—if there are germ-infested surfaces to touch, you’ve probably touched quite a few of them on your way to doing other things. And by the way, you’re not looking well. Time to call in sick?

Germs can spread like wildfire, hiding on unexpected surfaces, just waiting to give you and your co-workers various levels of illnesses. And it’s not just in office environments; it happens in warehouses, retail stores, and of course, healthcare facilities. So, yes, a clean workplace is important. Here’s why

1. Healthy employees = fewer sick days: It doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out. Check out the stats. Sick days cost businesses more than $225 billion dollars each year and result in 54% loss in productivity. Keeping your work environment clean keeps your employees healthy and lowers the number of sick days. Your janitorial team should focus on the daily disinfecting of surfaces, vacuuming carpets, washing floors, and sanitizing restrooms to minimize the spread. Hand sanitizer wall dispensers help too.

2. Cleanliness breeds satisfaction: When you walk into a spotless room that smells lemony fresh, it can make you light right up because you’ve walked into a clean space. Some people get absolutely giddy, and some feel an improvement in their energy levels as well as their overall satisfaction. A dirty office, on the other hand, affects morale. Honestly, would you want to put your lunch in a grimy fridge with a dead-food smell? Or not be able to look outside without dirty windows, ledges, and blinds degrading your view? For an employer, keeping the workspace clean lets employees know that their work is appreciated and respected.

3. Improved productivity: Coughing, sneezing or just feeling out of sorts are the calling cards of a dirty work environment. Employees might not even make the connection between their impaired performance and the effects that lingering dust and germs can have on their breathing, energy levels, headaches or skin. They may be feeling a lack motivation or initiative due to the unhealthiness of the workplace. Improved cleaning practices and quality janitorial cleaning supplies will positively impact the overall health of employees, improving their productivity.

4. It’s your image at stake: It’s not just your employees who interact with your spaces each day. It’s also your suppliers, potential and current clients, business partners and prospective hires. Do you want them leaving with the next communicable illness and an impression that your workplace is filthy? Of course not. Word spreads almost as fast as germs, so make sure you have the right cleaning strategies in place, from the front door to the forklift, restrooms, and boardrooms.

5. Cleanliness preserves assets over the long term: You have expensive assets in your building, particularly carpets and hard floors. If they’re not getting regular cleaning with the right cleaning products, you can kiss those pricey carpets and scratch-free, shiny floors goodbye. A good janitorial service will have commercial carpet cleaning equipment and/or commercial floor scrubbers that can make the cleaning process more effective and efficient. Your carpets and floors will last longer, and the professional equipment used to clean them makes the job much quicker. If your company has an in-house janitorial staff, consider equipping them with commercial cleaning equipment.

Speaking of cleaning efficiency, your company can follow all the suggestions above and still stay environmentally friendly. Philadelphia corporate janitorial service Team Clean notes, “The cleaning products we use are formulated to achieve maximum cleaning effectiveness while exceeding all environmental and safety requirements. We use Green Seal certified cleaning chemicals for general purpose, restroom, glass, and carpet cleaning, or recommended products for those not covered by the Green Seal Standard but do go beyond current, industry specifications. Our walk-behind carpet extractors and floor scrubbers reduce water consumption by 70%, along with a corresponding reduction in chemical usage.”

And, as part of any Green Clean program, Team Clean can also create an effective recycling process for your company, including the collection of materials, separation of recyclables from non-recyclables, and the removal of both.

 

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