Return to School: Advice for the Education Sector

Over recent weeks, our expert team of operatives have been working closely with a number of schools and other educational establishments to ensure they are achieving and maintaining the highest levels of cleanliness and safety across all areas of their site. 

Despite many schools having been closed, continuing to have high cleaning standards in place has been a must to keep on top of maintenance and keep the site clean, safe and hygienic. 

We wanted to share the many ways in which we have been supporting and working with schools to provide guidance and outline key considerations for your school. 


Preparing to return

Before welcoming any staff or students back to your school estate, it is imperative that you have a deep clean and decontamination of the entire site, including classrooms, labs, dining halls, washrooms, changing facilities and also spaces that are often overlooked such as hallways and lockers. 

You should also conduct a risk assessment of your site to identify any areas that require more attention to bring them up to the highest standard of cleanliness. 

You should also consider how you will be moving people around your school. 

For example, will you need to introduce one way systems through corridors where social distancing cannot be achieved and create one way in and one way out systems at your entrances and exits? 

After deciding on how you will control the movement of staff, students and visitors, you should also consider how this will impact your cleaning and the processes and procedures you need to put in place.  

Another factor to consider is the introduction of more frequent cleaning, not only at the end of each day, but also throughout the day. 

You should liaise with your cleaning contractor to arrange for more frequent cleaning and have this outlined and ready to go for as soon as you plan to start welcoming staff and students back to your site. 

School Re-opening

In line with Government guidance, many schools are and will be gradually welcoming students back to their site, certain years groups at a time. 

If this is the case for your school, you should consider how this will impact your cleaning. 

With only a reduced number of pupils returning, the need for new and effective cleaning measures is imperative, but this time may also provide you with the opportunity to assess the procedures you need to introduce in time to welcome back more and more of your students. 

The cleaning processes and frequency you have in place currently may be working well, but how do you plan to adapt them as you go into the new school year and begin to welcome back other year groups?

With greater use of all of your facilities and more people on your site, it is vital that you and your cleaning contractor are working together to introduce the best processes and procedures to meet your needs and that are also in line with Government guidance.  


Adjusting Shift Patterns

A key change that will need to take place in regards to your cleaning processes and procedures is when and how often they need to be conducted. 

With more frequent cleaning required throughout the day, you need to consider how you will implement this to work around your classes, staff and students to continue ensuring the highest level of cleanliness whilst maintaining social distancing. 

For example, over recent weeks our team has been working closely with a number of schools to determine and adjust our operatives’ shift patterns to enable social distancing through staggering their start and end times. 

These changes have enabled our teams to meet the needs of the school without disrupting the running of their timetable and whilst still maintaining robust social distancing.  

Planning an effective cleaning schedule will be imperative to ensure you too can achieve this and this should be reviewed and updated regularly, as you begin to welcome more students back and your needs and requirements change. 


Additional Hand Washing

In line with Government guidance, you will be required to instruct students to clean their hands more frequently throughout the day and provide them with the facilities to do so. 

What does this mean for the increased use of your washrooms and hand washing facilities

With increased use, it is vital that you are regularly and effectively cleaning these spaces, to reduce the risk of cross-contamination, as they can very quickly become hotspots for bacteria and the spread of infection. 

This increased use will also create a greater need for washroom consumables, including paper towels, antibacterial soaps and sanitiser, so it is important you have a robust and reliable supply chain in place where you can regularly access these quality supplies. 


High Touch Points 

During a risk assessment of your site, you should have also identified the high touch points across all areas of your school and consider how to mitigate the risks these areas pose. 

For example, across your school estate some of the most common high touch points will be door handles, bannisters, lift buttons, keyboards, your canteen trays and even the chairs in your classroom – as numerous students may touch the chair to pull it out in order to sit down. 

These are just a few examples as each site will be different, so it is important you have identified all of those specific to your site. 

In order to mitigate the risk of these high touchpoints, you will require increased daily cleaning so they are being sanitised on a regular basis. 

This is something that should be discussed and facilitated by your cleaning contractor. 


Disposal of Rubbish

The education sector is being advised in line with Government guidance, to regularly remove waste at the end of each day to help reduce the spread of infection.

This should include the disposal of waste from all areas of your site including classrooms, corridors, dining halls and your outdoor areas including your playgrounds. 

With this in mind, you need to consider how you will achieve this safely and effectively. 

Working alongside a contractor who can provide a quality and regular waste disposal service inline with health and safety guidance is a great solution for this.

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