As children head back to school during this 4th wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, proper cleanliness and sanitization are critical to ensure the health and safety of students, families, and staff.
Kids across the region and the nation are preparing to head to school. Some for the first time since the pandemic began in March 2020.
This 4th wave is driven by the Delta variant. And while millions of Canadians have protected themselves from the worst of the symptoms through vaccination, the greatest risk is to those who have yet to be vaccinated. And that includes children under 12 who are too young for the shot.
This evolution of COVID-19 demands increased vigilance in cleaning protocols, particularly at our schools. Throughout, it’s been identified that COVID-19 spreads very easily via high-traffic surfaces – doorknobs, light switches, tables, countertops, and the like. At school, where students and teachers are confined together for significant amounts of time, if these surfaces as well as chalkboard erasers and the board, itself, aren’t cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized properly, the risk of infection increases.
We want our kids to be at school! And, they want to be there, too. So, to ensure that we enjoy a greater sense of normalcy even amidst an ongoing pandemic, here is a daily cleaning checklist for the classroom to ensure it continues to be a safe space every day:
Sanitizing high-contact areas – doors, knobs, lights, and more
Even confined to a single space, you can expect students to move about the classroom – you can’t stop it and nor should you. But, that means that students will touch, lean on, have contact with doors, the doorknobs, light switches, the walls, and other surfaces around the room. This is how contamination occurs and the virus is able to spread. Be sure to clean, disinfect, and sanitize all high-contact surfaces before the class begins.
One of the most high-touch elements in a room is the doors. Doors and knobs should be a priority when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing. Wipe down – clean, disinfect, and sanitize – other commonly touched surfaces such as the classroom lights and switch plates, windows, window tracks, and blinds. Clean them frequently to prevent infection.
Keep classroom desks and chairs extra clean
Particularly in a junior or high school, where kids interchange classrooms, and therefore desks and chairs throughout the day, vigilant cleaning and sanitizing should be the highest priority. Even for younger students, the level of contact they have each day with their desks and chairs means they can easily accumulate germs and viruses, that can easily be spread.
Consequently, it’s vital that every desk and chair surface is cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized – and thoroughly. Establish a cleaning protocol – an easy system – to simplify the process and make it an organized habit. And don’t forget the teacher’s desk and chair, too! With each visit from a student, the risk of contamination increases.
Clean and sanitize floors for 4th wave safety
It isn’t just those surfaces we touch with our hands. A high-traffic surface among students and staff that might be a surprising source of spread is the classroom floor. Sneezing and coughing, even talking creates an aerosol effect and those droplets end up on the floor. During this 4th wave, it’s critical to include floors in your classroom cleaning protocol. Wash, mop, and disinfect floors every day to maintain a healthy classroom – and don’t forget the rugs and doormats, too!
Thoroughly clean chalk- and whiteboards
The chalkboard is another main point of collective contact in the classroom and needs to be cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized frequently. Include the erasers and writing implements – dry-erase markers and chalk, too. Many classrooms have cork- and pinboards and other displays. These are high-touch surfaces and need to be included in the regular cleaning regimen.
Clean and sanitize classroom supplies and stationery
A lot of sharing occurs in the classroom – a fundamental value that’s been reinforced since the first days of kindergarten. That means supplies are frequently exchanged between students throughout the school day. Inevitably, school supplies, textbooks, and stationery that has made contact with a student or teacher will be found around the classroom. As a result, they should all be included in the classroom daily cleaning protocol. Once cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized, items should be replaced where they belong.
Be sure to include any storage – cabinets, bins, and containers – in the cleaning routine. Cabinets and bins will have been opened and closed frequently throughout the day and can easily be a source of germs. Disinfect and sanitize regularly.
Remove trash and recycling frequently
It’s no surprise that items contaminated with a variety of germs and viruses likely end up in the garbage or recycling bins – sure to have been thoroughly touched by hands and mouths. Paper, cups, containers, plastics, disinfectant wipes, and other waste will make their way into the appropriate bins and need to be properly disposed of frequently to help prevent the spread of germs.
4th wave safety — more dispensers for sanitisers and sanitizing wipes
A school’s 4th wave of pandemic cleaning checklist for the classroom should include dispensers kept filled with sanitiser as well as easy-to-access sanitizing wipes. No matter the kind you choose – stand or wall-mounted – ensure they are located at entrances and common areas and within easy reach of all students and staff with strict rules that they are utilized.
Provide PPE for the school janitorial team
To protect your school cleaning team, you must invest in the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the janitorial staff. They should be provided with the right PPE – safety glasses, gloves, and face shields. Given their contact with contamination, the school custodian is at particular risk and requires the best protection to keep them safe.
Be sure that all of the PPE is treated appropriately once used – whether that means cleaned and disinfected or disposed of. Be sure that there are secure disposal containers for used PPE and that they are disposed of in the appropriate manner.