There's less than a month to go until school's reopen their doors, children get their brain's back in the game and, if the chitter-chatter down the aisles of Aldi are anything to go by, parents start panicking about whether their kid's school has done enough to manage the risks of Covid-19 spreading. It's a huge topic of conversation outside the school gates and one that requires every school to think about how they approach cleaning before and after they get the learning train back on the tracks.
The not so good news is: changes need to be made to the way you clean.
The good news is: you only need to make a few tweaks to your regular cleaning arrangements to keep everyone safe as you fully reopen in September
So, without further ado, here's our guide to cleaning and being able safely open up your school again:
1. Take Your Regular Cleaning Schedule & Boost It
If you've already got a super-sound team of professional cleaners ready to rock n' roll, then the first thing you should do is speak to them about adding extra hours to their normal schedule in order to keep your school squeaky clean and risk-free (otherwise give us a call and we'll give you the friendliest quote possible).
As for the cleaning itself, deep cleans are the best way to combat any spread, but you on't need to be deep cleaning on a regular basis. Once or twice a week will be more than enough, and then again should anyone at the school show symptoms or be be confirmed to have coronavirus.
That said, your regular cleaning schedule needs to be taken to another level, which means your cleaning legends will need to pay extra special attention to areas like:
Any frequently touched objects such as door handles, taps, faucets, learning equipment, lockers etc (see full list below), and they'll need to be cleaned at least twice a day, or whenever they've been used by one group and set to be used by another.
Those busy rooms and shared areas will need a lot more frequent cleaning, especially between use by different groups
Pro tip: to help out your cleaning heroes, try and reduce any unnecessary clutter, remove any items that are tricky to clean properly and go through your school premises to see how and where you can make cleaning easier. You can also find a full cleaning checklist here.
2. Make High-Contact and Shared Spaces Super-Clean
Cleaning is great, but also disinfecting places, spaces and things is the best approach to take, so make sure your clean team is using standard detergents and bleaches to thoroughly clean and disinfect all those frequently touched objects and surfaces throughout your school, once at the start of the day and then again at the end of play, wiping them down to be sure the risks are at a minimum.
Here are the frequently touched areas to focus on:
Door and window handles
Work surfaces, such as tables, desks and worktops
Bathroom facilities, especially taps, flushers, handles and any pull cords
Remote controls for TVs, computers, projectors etc.
Computer equipment, like keyboards and mouses and all that
Reception furniture, such as desks and tables
Communal kitchens and canteens, and have your cleaning professionals (or us) educate your catering staff about how to effectively clean these areas
And the other extra-layer of precaution your cleaning staff should take is cleaning and disinfecting any shared areas and resources between uses by different groups, such as:
The sports hall, art tools and science equipment
Any outdoor playground equipment that gets a lot of use
Hard-surfaced toys (not so much soft or cuddly toys because you shouldn't have soft or cuddly toys in school during this pandemic)
Your dining halls
Any classrooms used y different groups
Of course, it's not going to be 100% possible for your cleaning team to get in and clean every piece of equipment between one group leaving and another group entering because, well, your cleaners maybe cleaning elsewhere. So to manage the risks, set up a system whereby you store any frequently touched equipment for 48 hours (or 72 hours if that piece of much-loved equipment is plastics).
As you probably know, parents will be expecting big moves and the highest standards because they're probably quite fond of their kids, so make sure you talk to your cleaning team about all these high-focus areas. Chances are, they're probably cleaning them already, but why take any chances.
3. Only Your Cleaning Team Should Be Cleaning
With so much to clean and not enough time, you'll probably find yourself wanting to ask teachers and support staff to get in on the old cleaning duties. Don't do this. Absolutely do not do this. No disinfecting bathrooms, or cleaning desks or wiping floors, unless it's in their job description that is. Not only will this be putting them at risk, or add to the risk of something spreading, but you'll also be asking people without any cleaning experience to learn on the job in the middle of a pandemic, which would leave people open to risk.
So, if you are a little concerned that you don't have enough cleaners to take your regular cleaning routine up a level, give us a call and we'll do all we can to help out.
4. When You Have A Possible Case of Covid on Premises
No ifs or buts, you need to do a deep clean of any affected areas, and deep clean the heck out of them. That's the urgent news. Thankfully, that won't always mean you have to close the school to do this, although that is something your local health protection team will decide after they've contacted you to carry out a thorough risk assessment.
Either way, you need to know whether your current clean team will be up for this task or you need to call in outside support. After all, your cleaning staff may not feel comfortable putting themselves at this kind of risk or might feel ill-equipped. If that's the case, we recommend you find a specialist Covid-19 Deep Cleaning provider (cough, like us).
And if you're a state-funded school that's having to bring in extra cleaning specialists to perform deep cleans, the government could reimburse you for this, so don't panic about that side of things. This won't cover your regular cleaning costs, but it does cover any extra cleaning costs you may have incurred to keep your school open during any school holidays, or any deep cleans you've had to fork out for due to a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus.
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