Fighting Cross-Contamination at School

Few places are host to infectious bacteria more than a school environment. The relative proximity that exists between students amid the shared setting in which they are placed contributes greatly to the outbreak of illnesses that plague educational facilities. These issues manifest during the winter especially, when windows are closed and children remain indoors. From the gymnasium to the library, and the drinking fountain to the school bus home, conditions are ripe for germs to spread. Children’s own antibodies serve as a great defense against infection, but when they fail, there are several steps to take to avoid a school-wide outbreak.

A Clean Fight

Disinfecting surfaces is one of the biggest efforts in the fights against contamination. Custodial companies are finding that wiping down shared surfaces such as doorknobs and handles can mitigate the spread of germs in addition to the daily maintenance done before and after school hours. Common areas such as the cafeteria and restrooms are the responsibility of the maintenance staff, but teachers have found success by cleaning surfaces in their own classrooms. By wiping down desktops, countertops, keyboards, sinks and pencil sharpeners the threat of infection is greatly reduced. For gymnasiums and equipment, Clear Gear Sports Spray is one of the best solutions for preventing skin-to-skin contact of MRSA, Strep and Staph. It can be applied quickly to surfaces, mats, helmets, locker rooms and shower areas, greatly reducing the risk of infection.

Cold Season

More than any other time of year, winter is the season of colds, coughs and flus. Teachers and parents have begun to realize the virtue of liquid hand sanitizer and wipes and often keep bottles scattered throughout the room, particularly in hightraffic areas. By constantly reminding students to wipe their hands (in addition to surfaces) they have created a thoughtful student body that is hyper-aware of etiquette when feeling sick or recovering from illness. In addition, teachers have begun to teach children how to cough and sneeze properly—into their arms instead of their hands—which helps to reduce transmission and teaches manners. Forever vigilant, teachers now remind students to wash hands immediately following a sneeze or cough.

Sick Days

More and more, educators are focusing on the health of student body as a whole, and less on individual student attendance when it may mean exposing others to an ill child. Teachers have become adept at recognizing the effects of illness and contacting parents in the event a student must be sent home. In addition, administrators are quick to remind teachers that they should also remain home when sick to avoid contamination of a classroom.

De-Cluttering the Classroom

In an effort to streamline the cleaning process for custodians, teachers have been asked to cut down on filling up rooms with excess books, toys and furniture. It’s simple mathematics—the fewer items for students to handle, the lower the chance for cross-contamination. In addition, students who have asthma (which, on average, can be one to two students per classroom) may be negatively affected by upholstered surfaces such as rugs and furniture. Dust mites and dander gravitate toward such surfaces and create difficult breathing conditions and coughing fits.

Good Training = Good Cleaning

More efforts are being made to teach custodial staff how to clean up after incidents that include bodily fluids. Instead of mopping up surfaces and reusing the mop, they are taught how to properly remediate contaminated areas immediately following the incident. Areas of contamination that involve vomit, urine and excrement must be immediately cordoned and disinfected with an industrialgrade solution.

Do Your Homework

Good habits start at home, and preventing illness is no exception. While it is up to teachers and administrators to keep children safe and focused at school, there are active steps parents and guardians can take to further protect their children. Vaccinations are a must. By immunizing a child from certain illnesses, you prevent him or her from one day spreading them also. Breaking from the widely held notion that sharing is good, students are being told to bring their own pencils, erasers and pens and avoid sharing them. Such things are hotspots for germs—and sharing food, drinks, headsets and lip balms can escalate the risk of infection as well. Consider sending children to school armed with more than a bagged lunch this winter. A portable 4oz bottle of Clear Gear Sports Spray greatly increases the probability that your child will remain healthy and develop lifelong habits of cleanliness and hygiene.