It is well documented that schools are major hot zones for germs to develop. Common illnesses like the cold and flu can spread incredibly quickly among kids when they are in close contact with each other so it is imperative that effective hygiene protocol is in place to prevent these illnesses from spreading. With this in mind, this article will discuss the 6 germiest areas in schools and suitable solutions on how to clean/maintain them.
Table of Contents
1. Cafeteria Trays/Tables And Lunch Boxes
Cafeteria trays/tables and lunch boxes are in constant contact with staff, childrens hands and food during break periods which allows germs and pathogens to breed rapidly. What is quite alarming is that cafeteria trays are not regularly and thoroughly wiped down between meals so they get recycled constantly between students which causes even more germs to spread on food trays. As for Cafeteria tables, they are one of the most pathogen-ridden places in schools as they are the gathering place for many students who can potentially contaminate the area through coughing and sneezing.
Solution – Install hand sanitiser stations before the entrance to the cafeteria, enforce a “No sanitiser, no entry” policy and tweak the job description of the cleaning staff to make sure they are using antibacterial disinfectant wipes between students meals to eliminate any germs and bacteria from developing on the food tables.
Children spend the majority of their school day at their desks, meaning all coughs, sneezes and other bodily fluids like sweat and saliva typically end up on there. When students transfer between classes, it means the next set of pupils will be placing their hands in the already contaminated area. As such, it is pivotal to keep these areas cleaned to reduce spread of harmful bacterias across the school.
Solution – A quick wipe down with cloth is simply not enough. For the best desk hygiene practices to work, disinfectant is advised and must remain on the student’s desks for the manufacturer’s recommended setting time. It’s also important to clean the sides and legs of desks and chairs and always avoid using the same cloth across multiple classrooms to avoid any cross contamination possibilities.
3. The Drinking Fountain
Kids, more often than not, put their mouths right on the fountainhead when they are thirsty for water. What they might not be aware of is that fountains are cleaned and disinfected less frequently than the bathroom so are more prone to develop harmful bacteria. This is clearly an alarming fact which is why it is imperative that you As such, teach your kids to keep their mouth off of the fountainhead.
Solution – Provide clear signage on how to drink the water without risking any germs from being transferred. For example, show an illustration that shows someone drinking from the centre of the water stream and allow the fountain to run for a few seconds to help flush any germs out. Also don’t place your lips on the fountainhead as it will likely be contaminated by the previous user.
Have you ever considered where a student’s backpack has been throughout the day? If a student takes the bus or train to travel to school, it will accumulate more bacteria than the backpack of a kid who gets driven to school by car. Not to mention, during break periods, backpacks are often flung on the school field or in bacteria-ridden cafeterias so they can accumulate lots of germs quickly. In addition, backpacks typically don’t get washed very often and can contain old or wet clothing which further contributes to them teeming with germs.
Solution – Wash hands after touching a backpack due to them being a breeding ground for bacteria. Also, if the backpack is washable, wash it once a week if you have the time or simply wipe it down with an antibacterial cleaning cloth.
5. I.T Lab
A quite shocking fact in relation to I.T labs is that you’re more likely to encounter germs on a computer keyboard than on a toilet seat. By about 200 more times. Information Technology is a staple on the school curriculum and so computer keyboards and mice get frequent touches from all students across the school. You often see signs in computer labs that explain the importance of not eating or drinking. This is to firstly respect and not damage the equipment and to protect yourselves from transferring harmful germs to the food you eat.
Solution – like with many solutions on this list, advise your students to wash their hands before and after using the computer equipment to prevent the spread of bacteria. You should always wash hands vigorously using warm water and soap for 20 seconds to maintain strong hygiene standards.
6. School Swimming Pool
For those lucky enough to have a school swimming pool on site, it is important to realise that they can get quite dirty. Loose hair, excess skin and other unhygienic activities all commonly occur in swimming pools. Thankfully, with the effective incorporation of Chlorine or Bromine, swimming pools can remain clean and safe to exercise in as these two solutions fight off bacteria and fungi such as salmonella and E. coli, as well as germs that cause viruses such as diarrhoea as we exercise in the pool.
Solution – Always check with the lifeguard or the person on duty to see if the pool is safe to enter. Similarly, after your swimming session, showering with soap to remove any residual microbes that may have stuck to you while swimming.