As Cases Of COVID19 Rise Again, Is It Safe To Go Back To School?


The Changes in Education and How to Provide a Safe Environment

Did you know that 38 million school days are lost annually worldwide due to the flu? On average, a child misses 4.5 days of school a year due to illnesses that are commonly transmitted within the school facility.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, how schools operate is under constant scrutiny and change, and keeping schools safe and clean is now of upmost importance.

Schools are a breeding ground for viruses, germs and bacteria and poor hygiene can directly lead to absences for students and staff. Keeping on top of basic cleaning as well as introducing new measures is likely to be the way forward in combatting the transmission of coronavirus as well as preventing more common illnesses like colds and flu.

With UK schools planning to reopen fully in September, there are going to be strict policies in place to help prevent a second spread of COVID-19. These are going to include:

  • Strict hand-washing policies
  • A minimised level of pupil contact by keeping classes in separate ‘bubbles’
  • Promotion of the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ strategy for coughs and sneezes
  • Increased cleaning and cleaning arrangements
  • Collaboration with the NHS test and trace program

How Can You Keep Your School Environment Safe?

Schools need to be aware of the changes they need to make in order to keep their staff, students and surrounding individuals healthy and protected. A foundational element for a safe school is a clean school, so as to minimise the spread of harmful diseases.

Educational facilities are well-known hotspots for pathogens and germs. A cafeteria tray may contain 33,800 bacteria per square inch, a computer keyboard 3,300 per square inch and a water fountain spigot 2,700,000 per square inch, so it’s clear to see how easy viruses can be spread.

Effective Cleaning Starts With The Basics

A successful school cleaning program is organised, recorded and regular. It is beneficial to section off the school into areas such as classrooms, staffrooms, toilets, changing facilities and hallways. Depending on the nature of the environment, more or less cleaning may be required, for example rooms that are used every day will need consistent cleaning whereas activity rooms that are only used once or twice a week would only require deep cleaning after each use.

Sectioning off the school for a cleaning rota will also allow you to budget for time and costs. Depending on if you are hiring extra staff for the process or if you need more supplies, this can be addressed and accounted for as necessary.

Regular Disinfection Is Key

The fight against coronavirus requires vigilant disinfection as it is such a contagious virus – for every individual who contracts it, they are likely to infect at least 2 others. To minimise the R0 number of transmissions, regular and consistent disinfection of surfaces is vital.

Teachers, staff and students should all take responsibility for regularly disinfecting surfaces and objects in their classrooms. Things like doorknobs, chairs, desks, toys, taps, light switches and computers are all hotspots for virus transmission and ideally should be disinfected after each use. Each classroom should have a box of cleaning supplies that contains anti-bacterial cleanser, disposable cloths, hand gel and other disinfectants for cleaning that can also help with dealing with accidents such as spills.

Raise Awareness Of The Importance Of Cleanliness

Even if you hire a professional cleaning company to maintain the school environment, it’s crucial that you educate your staff and students on the importance of strict hygiene measures. Every individual should take responsibility for keeping the school clean and safe, and it’s the repetition of good hygiene habits that will break the chain of any virus transmission.

Students should be taught to clean up after themselves, regularly wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and try to avoid close contact with other pupils. Each classroom could nominate a weekly changing cleaning monitor to manage the disinfection of commonly used surfaces which can also help foster a sense of group responsibility and maturity.

Outsource School Cleaning To A Professional Firm

Most schools have designated cleaners or caretakers, but due to the necessary increase in cleaning standards, it may be useful to hire professional cleaners to help keep your school as safe as possible.

Professional cleaners can be hired weekly, monthly or yearly and are trained individuals that bring their own cleaning supplies and often have years of experience to draw upon. They can be employed to clean the school either during the day or night or could be drafted in to do a weekly deep-clean to give you extra peace of mind.

Add A Further Level Of Protection With A Pureair System From Airius

Keeping your school as safe and clean as possible during the current coronavirus pandemic is a difficult but vital challenge. Aside from regular cleaning, awareness of personal hygiene and social distancing, there are other measures we can take to keep our communities well.

Airius air purification systems can be installed into buildings such as schools to minimise the risk of virus transmission, as they use the latest in PHI (Photohydroionisation) Advanced Oxidation Technology from RGF Environmental, one of the worlds leading specialists in air, water and food purification, to kill or neutralise harmful pathogens in the air supply.

The PureAir works by emitting ‘Ionised Hydroperoxides’ from its integrated PHI Cell, that are otherwise known as ‘natures cleaning agents’ and are what are responsible for the air smelling clean after a thunderstorm.

The unit projects a broad spectrum HE/UV light on to a quad metallic catalyst which results in the production of the cleansing hydroperoxides. These molecules circulate in the air and capture, neutralise or kill the harmful pathogens that may be present in the atmosphere, as well as those that are present on surfaces within the room.

There are other methods of air filtration systems available, but none are as consistently effective as PHI based units. These air filtration systems include HEPA based appliances, which while they can remove viruses from the environment, they are filter based so their effectiveness decreases as the filter clogs up over time.

In addition, these are passive systems which means the air is only treated as is passes through the filter. Depending on the internal airflow of the room in which they are placed, this could mean there are areas in the room which are effectively never treated.

HVAC systems utilising UVGI lamps also effectively kill pathogens but they fail to help clean surfaces which is a defining feature and huge benefit of the PureAir system.

In tests conducted by Kansas State University on the RGF PHI Cell system a 99% reduction rate of E. coli, Listeria, Staph and MRSA pathogens was recorded. While in separate tests performed by private laboratories, universities and government agencies the PHI technology was shown to result in: 

  • 4-log reduction (99.99%) surface bacteria / virus reduction
  • 99% odour reduction
  • 99% food surface microbial reduction
  • 98% mould reduction
  • 97% airborne bacteria / virus reduction
  • Over 80% reduction of gases, vapours and VOCs

After installation in major city schools worldwide, a report of a reduction of absenteeism by 20% was reported and the system is approved by governments, hospitals and military facilities across the world.

By choosing to install a PureAir system in your school, you are choosing to protect the welfare of your staff and students and help reduce the level of absenteeism. PureAir provides a constant flow of virtually virus-free, neutralised air to maintain a clean and healthy educational environment.

For more information, please email or call us on 01202 554200 where a member of our team would be pleased to assist you with further information.