As summer vacation draws to a close across the nation, it’s time for schools to prepare for the inevitable onslaught of germs that arrive as students enter classrooms. How do you prevent the (seemingly inevitable) outbreak of sickness that occurs every year? Target the top germ hotspots in schools.
Here are some tips to help determine where to find the germ hotspots as well as some information about preventing the spread of disease across the student body.
As of fall 2016, an estimated 50.4 million students attended public elementary and secondary schools, and public schools will employee 3.1 million full-time teachers, not to mention other members of the staff. Students in grades k-12 miss an average of 4.5 sick days per student per year, and kindergarteners have an average of 12 colds per year, with older children averaging 7 per year.
What does this mean for schools? Well, school attendance impacts the school’s funding, so poor attendance can significantly reduce the amount of money the school gets to function. Absences of this magnitude can result in major losses to the district, affecting the supplies and programs offered to the children.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the spots in the school where germs are most likely to congregate, sickening students and staff alike. Here are some of the most prominent germ hotspots in any school.
Top Germ Hotspots
A study from the University of Arizona set researchers the task of swabbing classrooms and common areas of half a dozen schools to determine which areas were most likely to be germ hotspots.
The most contaminated site in the school was found to be the cafeteria table. What are some of the other germ hotspots?
- Computer mouse
- Bathroom paper towel dispenser handle
- Water fountain
- Library table
- Faucets in the bathroom sinks
- Computer keyboard
What is the one thing these areas have in common? They’re common areas— everyone in the school has access to them. It’s a strong indicator that there needs to be significantly more education about the prevention of germs in the school.
Another notorious germ hotspot is the teacher’s desk— in fact, it was determined that out of all professions studied, teachers had the germiest work spaces of all. Again, students have access to the teacher’s space, too, so this isn’t terribly shocking.
Additionally, attention should be paid to the usual suspects— doorknobs, light switches, hand rails, and even the floors.
Germ Hotspot Education
What can you do to reduce the concentration of germs in these common areas? The first step is to spread awareness.
- Post signs— Place signs prominently in bathrooms, reminding students (and teachers) to wash their hands, complete with directions for effective germ removal. Don’t stop at the elementary schools— children in middle and high schools can use the reminders, too. In a study of middle and high school students, it was found that only half of the students washed their hands after a visit to the bathroom. Of that half 33% of girls and 8% of boys actually used soap.
- Push sanitizer— Encourage teachers to have sanitizer available in their classrooms, placed prominently next to the box of tissues to encourage use when the students are suffering from a cold. You can also install sanitizing stations around the school, with a focus on the cafeteria. Place some sanitizer next to the lunch line with signs suggesting that the students use it prior to purchasing their lunch.
- Disinfect throughout the day— Provide teachers with convenient disinfectant wipes and instruct them to wipe down germ hotspots throughout the day. Even though a classroom might start out clean, the germs accumulate as the day goes on. In one study, the Influenza A virus was found on 13.6% of the surfaces swabbed in the morning. By the afternoon, the number had climbed to 50%. A mid-day wipe down will help keep everyone healthy.
- Empower janitorial staff— Yes, cleaning for appearance is important, but cleaning for health can make a much bigger impact on your school. Ensure that your janitorial staff has the tools and time they need as well as the training and education required to attack germ hotspots with the most effective weapons.
A professional janitorial service such as CSG has the experience and know-how required to provide a safe and sanitary environment for students and staff alike. Contact us today to learn more about the CSG difference.