Road Map for K-12 Education - Six Strategies for Cleaning and Disinfecting

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Road Map for K-12 Education

Six Strategies for Cleaning and Disinfecting Summer, 2020 V.1.0

Six Strategies for Cleaning and Disinfecting These risk mitigation strategies fall into the category of administrative controls because they change the behaviors and protocols of the school.


― The definition of cleaning. The CDC defines cleaning as the removal of dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces1. Cleaning alone does not kill germs. But by removing the germs, it decreases their number and therefore any risk of spreading infection. Disinfectant: Disinfectant is usually a chemical agent (but sometimes a physical agent) that destroys disease-causing pathogens or other harmful microorganisms but might not kill bacterial spores. It refers to substances applied to inanimate objects. EPA groups disinfectants by product label claims of “limited,” “general,” or “hospital” disinfection. Disinfection: Thermal or chemical destruction of pathogenic and other types of microorganisms. Disinfection is less lethal than sterilization because it destroys most recognized pathogenic microorganisms but not necessarily all microbial forms (e.g., bacterial spores). Educational Adaptation

Health Promotion

Risk Mitigation

Author / Summer - 2020 Erika Eitland , ScD, MPH

Note - Wear Gloves: The CDC recommends wearing disposable gloves to clean and disinfect. Clean surfaces first using soap and water, then use disinfectant. More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be required for high-use areas and frequently touched surfaces including tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.

Research Analyst


Hierarchy of Controls


Strategies for Cleaning and Disinfecting

01 ― Use green cleaning strategies to reduce unintended health concerns associated with harsh chemicals. Create a green cleaning plan, train staff to follow it, and share and socialize it with the school community (in and out of the building). nj  Consult Green Seal1 and U.S. EPA’s Design for the Environment2 to identify specific cleaners and services. nj  Use cleaners identified by the EPA for use against SARS-CoV-2.3

02 ― Use the same products across the school district. This is necessary for safety and increasing staff comfort with new conditions. Do not Mix Cleaning Products nj  Instruct custodial staff to not mix cleaning products. It can be dangerous to mix different cleaners that can react with each other. Also, using multiple products will make it harder to adapt to new chemicals and procedures. Cleaning/Disinfection Techniques will Vary nj  Note that appropriate cleaning/disinfection techniques will vary depending on the type of surface being treated (e.g. soft and hard surfaces). Wear PPE When Cleaning and Advise Custodial Staff that PPE Must be Worn nj  Require that custodial staff wear PPE when using disinfectants.


03 ― Engage students in cleaning. Enlist students to help wipe down desktops and doorknobs with soapy water to remove microorganisms. nj  Consider giving each teacher a spray bottle with the district-approved cleaner and paper towels for cleaning between classes or before and after meals. Cleaning materials should be disposable to reduce transmission risk.

04 ― Create a cleaning protocol with school bus contractors. Understand what products are being used, how often they will clean the bus, what precautions are being taken for protecting the driver’s health and safety. nj  Social distancing will limit the number of students who can ride the bus at a time. Poll guardians to identify how many would be willing to drive their student or carpool.


Strategies for Cleaning and Disinfecting

05 ― Procure equipment that supports thorough cleaning.

06 ― Create a phased cleaning plan. nj  Develop a phased plan to escalate disinfection procedures when suspected cases are identified within the

nj  ATP and Fluorescence Testing: Custodial staff should be

school community.

encouraged to use this to measure effectiveness of deep cleaning (whether that happens once a week or more) especially in bathrooms and other high-risk areas. The results are simple, affordable and instant.4 nj  Steam mopping floors: The advantages of using steam include fewer cleaning hours, avoidance of toxic chemicals or dry-cleaning costs, and 90% less water consumption.5 nj  Electrostatic Sprayers have been shown to be an effective measure for treating SARS-CoV-2.6 nj  Mobile UV-C Lights can disinfect highly contaminated areas (e.g. restroom stalls, waste bins). This strategy has been evaluated for reducing pathogens in hospital rooms. 7


Surface cleaning strategies are being researched carefully. More guidance will follow in coming months, but in the meantime we recommend these resources:


Strategies for Cleaning and Disinfecting

― Resources •

EPA & CDC Guidance on cleaning and disinfecting schools

EPA Safer Choice & COVID-19 Compliant Product List

EPA IAQ Tools For Schools Resources: web-based trainings, including the Master Class webinars and Knowledge-toAction webinars

Healthy Schools Campaign webinar on COVID-19 School Response and Operationalizing CDC Guidelines AND really helpful school district resources

Spaces4Learning article featuring healthy cleaning research study in Canada and FL

CDC guidance on Disinfecting vs. Sterilization

NY State Dept of Health interim guidance on green cleaning practices

Washington State Department of Health classroom cleaning tips and an informative Q&A section for teachers and custodial staff; and a list of safe cleaning supplies and practices for classrooms.

Cleaning & Maintenance Management Disinfectant Pros & Cons - Hydrogen Peroxide vs. Quats

Recording: Healthy Schools Campaign COVID19 & the K-12 Response


Cleaning alone does not kill germs. But by removing the germs, it decreases their number and therefore any risk of spreading infection.


Strategies for Cleaning and Disinfecting

― References 1








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