During these strange times, getting back to normal day-to-day life has been a challenge for many schools. A recent survey from the British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF) found that 59% of B.C. teachers say COVID-19 safety measures in schools are “inadequate.” Already more than a month into the year, students and teachers are eager to get back to the classroom yet are still very concerned about the quality of the precautions in place for their safety.
At Origen, we want to ensure that everyone feels secure in their learning environments. The well-being of the academic community is very important to us. Our recent partnership with the cleaning staff at School District 63 has allowed us to provide our Activated Probiotic Defence technology to learning facilities all around Saanich, BC, increasing the safety and positivity of staff and students.
On top of probiotic cleaning solutions, there are many other fantastic ways to boost the viral defence within schools. In this article, we will break down our top recommendations for ways to ensure that your space is the cleanest that it can be, so that students can get back to enriching their knowledge and building a better future.
1. Make a List of High-Touch Surfaces
Going from location-to-location to identify which surfaces and objects are regularly touched will give you a better idea as to where viral infections could spread. Objects that are frequently ignored during routine cleaning are shared objects. Shared objects can include sports equipment, toys, computers, art supplies, and more. The CDC recommends keeping objects like these separated and only used when necessary.
The following are common areas and surfaces where people interact using their hands. Are we missing any key locations that you know of? Let us know in the comment section down below!
Whiteboard and markers
Toilet seats and handles
Air dryers and/or paper towel dispensers
2. Minimize Contact
As illnesses spread from one person to another, an effective way to reduce this is to limit exposure to others. One way to do this is to adapt class scheduling. Consider replacing some in-person classes with remote classes, through software such as Zoom, Google Hangouts or Discord. This is known as a hybrid schedule. Other scheduling models include modified traditional, year-round, and even all-online schedules. Education Week has an excellent guide on scheduling during COVID-19.
While switching to virtual learning can be effective for some classes, there are others such as Choir, Physical Education, Woodshop, and Art that are difficult to do online. When physical presence is necessary, consider keeping a distance of 2 meters between each person and using protective equipment such as masks or facial shields. Wearing protective gear significantly reduces the spread of respiratory droplets, which in turn reduces the risk of infection on campus.
3. Keep Your Hands Clean
Adding a structured hygiene plan helps to keep everyone on the same page as to what needs to be done. While you can’t control how students behave on their own time, you can at least ensure that they are following appropriate measures in the school building. Enforce mandatory hand washing before eating and after being in contact with any high-touch areas. If soap and water are not available, provide hand sanitizer dispersants.
Hand sanitizing, a practice that has become widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic, does not actually remove all germs from your hands. Thankfully though, it does help to reduce them. Sanitizer should only be used if flowing water and soap are not readily available. Health Canada recommends approved hand sanitizing products that contain at least 60% alcohol. You can find a list of approved hand sanitizers by Health Canada by clicking here.
4. If you feel sick, stay home
In the past, there has been intense pressure on students to show up to school even if they feel unwell to prove that they are invested in their education. Teachers too have felt the pressure, only allowed a certain number of “sick days” a year. Today, it is necessary to prioritize the wellbeing of the community rather than a perfect attendance record.
In the case that you begin to show signs of illness, keep away from others immediately - especially young children, those with underlying conditions, and the elderly. These groups are the most vulnerable to the dangerous effects of viruses, so staying away from them when you’re sick can sometimes be life-saving. Thankfully, it is still safe to enjoy a nice cup of tea with Grandma over video chat!
If you fear that you may have symptoms of COVID-19, it is best to contact a faculty member or supervisor to help get the testing that you need. When local health authorities are present, follow their instructions as thoroughly as possible.
5. Invest in the safety of your janitors
Your custodial team plays a key role in keeping you safe during these trying times and they should be treated with the utmost respect and dignity. They do the dirty work, sometimes exposing themselves to viruses, bacteria and toxic chemicals from disinfectant products for the sake of public wellness. It’s important to keep them healthy, so they can continue to keep the community healthy.
Investing in personal protective equipment (PPE) for custodians will reduce their risk of danger related to illnesses and chemicals.
Depending on the job, PPE may include some of or all of the following items:
Appropriately putting on and taking off PPE is also vital. Improper donning and shedding of garments can create openings that can expose the body to harm. As janitors are in a high-risk profession, it is important to take extra precautions to ensure their wellness.
6. Use a probiotic cleaner for extra protection
Adding a probiotic cleaner into your regular routine is a great way to create a better ecosystem in your building. Our Activated Probiotic Defence works by deploying microscopic cleaning crews that prevent pathogens from spreading and eat away at biofilm, where bacteria and viruses can hide from disinfectants.
Since partnering with Origen, School District 63 has reported faster cleaning times, reduced labour costs, and improved customer confidence in the safety of their facilities. Your school can also be part of a better future - by joining Origen's Building Balance program. When applied onto clean surfaces, we provide an extra layer of protection that dramatically improves the efficacy of your cleaning routine, for better health and peace of mind for students and staff.
Protect your school now and book a free discovery session!
At Origen, we believe all buildings should not just be clean - they should also be naturally balanced, just like the Great Outdoors. That's why we've put together a free e-book with our top 10 tips to help keep your staff, customers, and stakeholders healthier over time. Use these tactics to increase the wellness, prosperity and peace of mind of all those who enter your space.
Written by: Zach Zachariou
British Columbia Teachers Federation. (2020). Provincial Snapshot: September K-12 Restart From: https://bctf.ca/publications/ResearchReports.aspx?id=58256
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Demonstration of Donning (Putting On) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4jQUBAlBrI
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Demonstration of Doffing (Taking Off) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQxOc13DxvQ
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020).Cleaning, Disinfection, and Hand Hygiene in Schools – a Toolkit for School Administrators From: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/clean-disinfect-hygiene.html
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