Three Flu Prevention Cleaning Tips to Keep Students Healthy
Flu season is back and it may be a bad one. The Immunization Action Coalition reports that the 2016–2017 influenza season was moderately severe, claiming responsibility for 72 pediatric deaths. This year, signs point to a similar virus and a similar pattern of infection, which can be hard on our schools. In the past, flu caused 32 million missed days, costing $10.4 billion indirect medical expenses and $16.3 billion in lost work hours.
Fight back with three flu prevention cleaning tips to keep students healthy and in school.
1. Clean and Disinfect Daily
Flu may be horrible to get, but the virus is surprisingly fragile. Standard cleaning practices are enough to kill and remove the pathogen from the environment. Thoroughly clean classrooms, hallways, restrooms and commons spaces daily. Don’t forget frequently touched surfaces like desk tops, door handles, bannisters, microwave buttons and light switches. Because everyone will be encouraged to wash their hands frequently pay special attention to soap and paper towel dispensers and faucet taps.
Flu virus can survive on porous surfaces too, so don’t forget the soft stuff like upholstered furniture, rugs and textiles. Linens and towels should be washed in standard laundry soap and tumbled dry on a hot setting.
2. Disinfect All the Touchpoints
Flu spreads through the respiratory droplets of infected people. The virus settles on surfaces and lives for between two to eight hours. That’s plenty of time for a healthy student to touch a surface and then rub their eyes, touch their nose or put their hands in their mouth. Another flu prevention cleaning tip is to stay on top of touch points by encouraging students and teachers to use disinfecting wipes on communal objects like computer keyboards, pencil sharpeners, sports gear and the like.
Trash should be bagged and tied before collection. Clean and disinfect the bin before replacing the bag.
3. Don’t Forget the Floor
People may not think of the floor as a common touchpoint, but it is…kind of. Infected droplets from coughs and sneezes eventually drift down, settle on the floor and, when a student or teacher drops anything, gets picked up along with the item. For elementary or pre-schools, the floor is an actual touch point. Kids often sit on floor rugs for reading time or music education. Treat spaces underfoot with the same daily cleaning care as other surfaces.
Of course, the best flu prevention is getting a vaccine and washing your hands often. School administrators should encourage both. They should also send the message that sick children should stay home until they’re no longer contagious.
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Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.