Heading Back to School? <em>Enacting Practices to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 in Schools</em>
Halosil Blog

Timely insights on whole room disinfection.

EducationSeptember 10, 2020

Heading Back to School? Enacting Practices to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 in Schools

As the summer winds down and schools come into session again, academic institutions have had to make the difficult decision on whether to restart classes in-person or remote. For many, particularly in higher education, the decision was made to take a hybrid approach to learning that allows students to opt-in to in-person classes. For those who chose to physically return to classrooms, they also include new rules around social distancing, rotating days of in-person classes, and routine disinfection.

To prevent a steady increase of cases, both on college campuses and in K-12 academic institutions, educational facilities must not only uphold these strict new standards, but also quickly identify and isolate ill students and faculty from the rest of the school if cases break out. However, as the weather becomes colder, health experts are concerned that quickly identifying symptoms of COVID-19 may become more challenging as they are similar to the symptoms of respiratory illnesses that are more common in the winter.

As a result, it is vital that reopening schools consider evaluating and updating their cleaning and disinfection practices in line with the latest guidelines by the CDC.

Understand Where and When to Disinfect

When considering a disinfection strategy, high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces must be priority zones for whole room disinfection. In schools, these can include classrooms, cafeterias, locker rooms, and gymnasiums. Colleges and universities introduce additional spaces that must be disinfected, such as dorm common spaces, gyms, dining halls, and libraries. In particular, facilities like nurses’ offices and student health centers where potentially COVID-19 positive individuals may go when they notice symptoms must be routinely disinfected.

When evaluating surfaces to disinfect, consider the following guidelines:

•  Routinely disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, computer mice, and shared desk spaces.
•  Clean, but don’t disinfect, general outdoor areas such as benches.
•  Consider removing communal items where possible, such as shared tablets and art supplies.

Educating Cleaning Crews

Since the start of the pandemic, many cleaning crews have reported they lack the time and training to effectively disinfect facilities against COVID-19. For schools, it is critical to ensure janitors and cleaning crews are equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to both disinfect rooms and protect themselves from infection.

Solutions—like diluted bleach—that require janitors to mix cleaning products themselves are not ideal as they expose cleaning crews to chemicals that can cause harm. In addition, they introduce the risk of user error, which can result in improperly mixed ratios and inconsistent disinfection results. Ideally, cleaning crews should be provided a whole room disinfection solution that is easy to use and mitigates the risk of human error that is inherent when manually applying disinfectants. The EPA’s List N provides a list of approved solutions.

Pairing Routine Disinfection with Social Distancing

Along with more rigorous disinfection practices, schools must enforce social distancing that can limit human-to-human spread. These include placing desks 6 feet or more apart, prohibiting or limiting large gatherings of students, requiring face masks in all public settings, and taking students’ temperatures regularly.

Disinfecting Academic Facilities Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt

As educators around the world continue to evaluate and refine their plans for back to school, it’s critical to consider a disinfection strategy that pairs the highest levels of efficacy with the flexibility and usability academic institutions require.

At Halosil, we have a long legacy of providing whole room disinfection solutions to daycares, K-12 schools, and colleges and universities. Today, our proven HaloMist™ (EPA Reg. No. 84526-6) solution continues to be trusted by academic intuitions across the nation as an EPA List N disinfectant approved for use against SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19. Contact Halosil today to learn more about our solution and evaluate if your current disinfection strategy is up to the task.