COVID-19 transformed the indoor environment in most public places, but specifically in schools. With or without masks, our nation’s most precious gift – our children – will soon return to classrooms to be educated and socialized, and we hope these cleaning tips provide a roadmap to get ready for August 30th when the DC public schools are back in session.
Cleaning, Disinfecting, Sanitizing – Know the Difference
Cleaning: Removing germs and dirt left behind from hands, shoes, and more. You can use soap and water to clean a surface, which will remove them from the surface you are cleaning, but make sure you wash your hands and discard the cloth or paper towel quickly so you don’t just transfer germs from one place to another. Routine cleaning is recommended for all indoor and outdoor environments.
Disinfecting: Killing germs, usually by using a chemical and then wiping the chemical away. In this case, they don’t transfer, but we still recommend proper disposal of cloths and handwashing after. Killing the germs as opposed to transferring the germs is most ideal in a setting where our community’s most precious little ones will be spending most of their day. Routine disinfecting is recommended for all indoor environments, although the CDC recommends against outdoor space disinfection.
Sanitizing: Removes and kills a few germs but still leaves some behind. This is still a good practice but, as a bare minimum, we certainly recommend cleaning and disinfecting surfaces as a priority. Cleaning removes visible solids while sanitizing reduces pathogens on surfaces to safe levels. Cleaning removes physical soils such as food particles, oily residue and germs. Sanitizing reduces the amount of bacteria or germs on a surface to safe levels. A surface must be cleaned before it can be correctly sanitized. A dirty surface cannot be sanitized.
Daily disinfecting and cleaning the highest touch areas should your biggest priority. Desks, bathrooms, computer keyboards, phones in the office, and water fountains are good places to start.
Products and Training
All cleaning staff should receive in-person training for the products and equipment they will be using. Training should be provided in both English and Spanish, and topics should include safe and effecting handling of cleaning products, proper cleaning procedures, proper waste handling, use and maintenance of equipment, and use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Make sure your cleaning staff understand they are the first line of defense when it comes to protecting our children in schools from transmissible diseases.
PMM is proudly GS-42 Green Seal™ certified, and 100% of our buildings follow green cleaning policies and procedures. We hope you will consider a similar route, using only products that are non-toxic to your occupants, visitors, and the environment.
Download the Green Seal, Healthy Green – Schools and Colleges Guidelines for COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfection here.