Back to School: Thinking through Whole Room Disinfection in Education Facilities
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Timely insights on whole room disinfection.

EducationJuly 18, 2019

Back to School: Thinking through Whole Room Disinfection in Education Facilities

As the summer months wind down and September approaches, students and faculty prepare to return to school and get back into the routine of another academic year. However, as students and teachers get back to school, they also get back to the threat of infection posed by dangerous germs and pathogens that are commonly spread in educational facilities, such as those that cause respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus, enterovirus D68, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), among others.

With approximately 55 million students and 7 million staff attending more than 130,000 public and private schools in the United States, the heightened risk of transmitting dangerous pathogens in schools comes as no surprise. The threat of infection in educational environments at all academic levels stems from the volume of students, frequent sharing of toys and supplies, close quarters of the classroom environment, and increased susceptibility amongst children populations. In fact, schools represent the lion’s share of cases for many commonly known infections.

For instance, most flu activity has been driven by illness in school-aged children, with hospitalization rates among adolescents who are younger than 5 years old (7.7 per 100,000) being the highest among all age groups. Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has issued recommendations and guidelines for MRSA protocols in schools and daycares since the bacterium can be easily contracted and cause severe health problems including sepsis, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia.

For school administrations and facilities, disinfection is a necessary aspect of maintaining a safe and healthy environment that is conducive to learning. Following are some pointers to consider when creating a whole room disinfection strategy for your education facility this fall.

1. Differentiate Between Cleaning, Disinfecting & Sanitizing

Before an effective whole room disinfection plan can be carried out in the classroom, it’s necessary to differentiate between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. While these three terms sound similar, they all vary in principle and provide different levels of protection from germs. Cleaning simply removes germs, dirt, and impurities from various surfaces or objects. Although cleaning can decrease the number of germs present and lower the risk of spreading infection, it’s important to note that its use of soap and/or detergent does not kill many of them. In other words, a clean classroom is not necessarily a classroom that is germ free.

Conversely, disinfecting kills almost all germs that are present on surfaces or objects. While this process does not clean surfaces or remove germs altogether, effective disinfection does radically lower the risk of spreading infections by killing pathogens. Finally, sanitizing is focused on simply reducing, rather than essentially eradicating, bacterial or viral pathogens on surfaces or objects. Although all three of these approaches are helpful in addressing dangerous pathogens in the educational environment, it is important to note that only disinfecting can truly kill almost all germs that are lurking in the classroom.

However, it’s also important to note that not all disinfection methods are created equal. Sprays and wipes can offer some level of disinfection, but their lack of ability to reach all nooks and crannies present on a wide variety of surfaces in a classroom or locker room can leave pathogens lurking in the shadows. For these reasons, it’s important to trust in disinfection strategies that can offer full area coverage, such as disinfectants that are distributed using a dry fog that fills a room.

2. Disinfect High-Touch Surfaces Routinely & Correctly

While a number of infectious diseases like the flu virus are primarily spread from person to person through the coughs and sneezes of infected individuals, high-touch surfaces are also responsible for spreading disease-causing pathogens. Objects such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, hands-on learning tools, and toys are just some of the culprits. Frequently used and commonly shared items like these promote the transmission of pathogens between students and teachers.

For obvious reasons, these surfaces and objects need to be disinfected routinely and correctly—not just when they are visibly soiled. When doing so, it’s critical to match your disinfection solution to the types of germs that need to be killed. For instance, the flu virus can potentially cause infection for up to 48 hours after landing on a surface. Meanwhile, bacteria like MRSA can survive on surface areas for hours, days, or even weeks. Since different bacteria, viruses, and fungi have varying life spans on surfaces, it’s best to use a broad spectrum disinfectant that can kill all three of the major classes of organisms with outstanding efficacy.

3. Rely Only on EPA-Registered Disinfection Products

In order to effectively kill a wide range of germs in the classroom, the CDC recommends (and Federal law requires) the use of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered products; specifically, EPA-registered antimicrobial disinfectants. Many of these disinfectants are documented to kill 99.9999% of even the most resistant germs, resulting in temporary, nearly sterilized conditions in the educational setting.

While the EPA has multiple lists of legally registered products, its List K includes disinfectants such as HaloMist® (EPA Registration No. 84526-6) that are extremely effective against C. difficile spores, a form of one of the most difficult pathogens to kill. HaloMist® is also an EPA-registered disinfectant effective against the flu virus, the norovirus, MRSA and other pathogens. By delivering thorough disinfection as an EPA-registered bactericide, virucide, and fungicide, HaloMist® offers broad spectrum protection against some of the most persistent and dangerous pathogens. Non-corrosive and bleach free, the product can also be safely used around electronics and in environments frequented by children.

Does Your Disinfection Strategy Make the Grade?

Spreading knowledge doesn’t have to mean spreading germs, too. At Halosil, we understand the importance of keeping students and teachers healthy throughout the school year, which is why our whole room disinfection solution achieves the highest possible efficacy on the market today. Our proprietary Halo Disinfection System® uniformly distributes our EPA-approved HaloMist disinfectant via dry fogging to ensure that every classroom, cubby, and cranny is free of disease-causing pathogens—all with a hands-free approach that requires no rinsing or wiping.

Ready to ace infection control in your educational facility? Contact Halosil today.