While we have largely made it out of the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still a large risk of cold and flu viruses returning this year. Just because the pandemic has waned does not mean it’s time to let our guard down. Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at higher risk of serious flu complications. Therefore, you must ensure proper cleaning at your home and maintain hygiene.
Before the pandemic, thousands and thousands of people and schoolchildren are sickened every year by the flu. In a particularly bad flu season of 2017-2018, more than 700,000 people were hospitalized with the flu, and each year more than 10-40 million Americans are infected with the flu virus. Occasionally a school is forced to shut down for days when illness spreads unchecked. When students become sick, they can remain at home. However, when your staff begins to get sick, that’s when school administration can become tricky. Losing a teacher or administrator to illness for days or weeks can have terrible repercussions for students and your school.
If the past has taught us anything, it’s that with the proper precautions, the spread of flu can be mitigated. Schools offer the perfect environment for illnesses to spread. There are many people, indoors, for long periods of time. There is a lot of talking, and the same equipment like desks, tables, and door handles are frequently used. This is the perfect breeding ground for viruses to spread. However, there are ways to prevent this spread in your school this year.
Tips To Prevent Influenza Spread Through Vaccination, Hygeine and Proper Cleaning.
Don’t give influenza a hall pass at your school this winter. Follow the below tips to reduce the chances of having an outbreak in your school.
Encourage vaccination: Vaccination against the flu remains the best-known protective action. If possible, give your students and staff the opportunity to receive yearly flu vaccines in September or October. Make it easy for everyone to sign up and receive a vaccination on campus. The more people in your building that are vaccinated, the lower the risk that they become infected, get sick and spread the flu around your school. Vaccination is the most helpful way to reduce the burden of flu on your school and your students.
Teach proper hygiene practices: This includes staying home when sick. It’s much easier these days to learn from home than in the past, and it’s now commonplace to stay home when not feeling well. Other preventive practices include covering your nose when sneezing, covering your mouth when coughing, and washing your hands regularly. Some schools opt to prop doors open, thereby reducing the surface transfer of germs. High-traffic and high-touch surfaces like door handles, keyboards, and railings should be cleaned or avoided.
Consistent cleaning is your next defense: According to the CDC, studies have shown that the influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface. This means that consistent cleaning is key to preventing further outbreaks of flu. Make sure each staff member has access to cleaning and sanitizing products and time to disinfect surfaces and high-touch areas. Our commercial cleaning services can be customized to your needs, and we also offer fogging disinfection services. Fogging services can quickly disinfect a large area while also controlling odor and remaining cost-effective. Fogging should be performed by trained professionals.
Make sure you’re cleaning and sanitizing correctly: It’s important to know the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfection. Cleaning simply removes dirt, germs, and impurities (it does not kill them necessarily). Disinfection kills germs on surfaces using chemicals. Sanitizing means cleaning and disinfecting in order to lower the number of germs and thereby reduce the risk of spreading infection. If your teachers or staff are performing cleaning in their classrooms, make sure that instructions on cleaning labels are being followed. For example, wiping down electronics that are frequently used with cleaning wipes is acceptable, but ensure your teachers are using enough products to adequately destroy germs and bacteria.
Use products safely: When used in the wrong combination, cleaning products can be very harmful. Combining bleach and ammonia can be deadly, so always take care to read labels. Also, provide gloves and eye protection to teachers doing their own cleaning, as many labels state that protective gear should be used. It’s also important to know how long a cleaning product needs to be let to sit in order to take effect. Most people spray a solution on a surface and immediately wipe it away. In reality, this is not killing or wiping away many germs. Ensure that your disinfectants have been registered and proven effective by the EPA.
Understand how and when to disinfect: Flu viruses and COVID-19 are relatively easy to kill compared to other germs. Most readily-available cleaners and disinfectants will kill them, but a waiting period between infection and sterilization must be followed before a cleaning. Further, different germs and viruses spread in different ways. Some spread more quickly and survive longer on surfaces while others spread primarily through respiratory droplets and in the air.
While the above tips will help to reduce instances of the flu and other illness this upcoming winter, the best solution for cleaning is to outsource to commercial cleaning companies. Teachers and administrators should not be relied on to do their job and clean and sanitize. Disinfecting can be more complicated than meets the eye and every facility will need a customized solution.
The most important part of cleaning and sanitizing is that it must be performed properly. Our professional cleaning crews are trained on how to use their products safely and effectively. They know how frequently disinfection should occur, and they use the proper disinfectants with the proper application techniques. Our teams can also identify risks within your building and create a plan to better manage potential outbreaks.
Whether you’re at a small private school in Denver or a large campus, we have the tools and resources to keep your staff healthy this year. We offer customized plans to meet your needs, including the use of green cleaners and scheduling that won’t disrupt your staff and students.
Please contact us today to prepare your Denver school for flu and cold season!