Schools Tackle Germ Hotspots

Gymnasiums/Locker Rooms/Weight Rooms — Gymnasiums are another top candidate to harbor germs. While it’s impossible for every square foot of a school to be sanitized, some common hotspot areas deserve special attention. These areas are commonly used after hours and on weekends, and therefore pose challenges to regular cleaning.

In addition, poorly ventilated areas with sweat and other bodily fluids are often ignored between classes. Work with your school departments to incorporate a plan to clean all floors, weight equipment, sports equipment and fitness machines. Keep in mind that bacteria thrive in warm and moist environments such as showers and on any other surface that comes in contact with bodily fluids.

Wrestling Mats/Sports Equipment — Wrestling is a contact sport that exposes athletes to all kinds of bacteria, making cleaning and sanitizing mats essential. In line with gymnasiums and locker rooms, wrestling mats are the most likely cause of staph and MRSA infections in a school.

These areas are often not cleaned and disinfected by custodial staff but by other departments that may not allow enough dwell time or use a disinfectant with the right kill claims. Because of that alone, these areas are breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses to spread to students.

Sports helmets, basketballs and other sports gear also need to be regularly sanitized or disinfected to help minimize the risk of exposure. Work with your departments and athletics to comprise a program or schedule to routinely clean and sanitize and disinfect contact surfaces daily — or at least immediately prior to each use or event.

HVAC/Ventilation — While custodial worker responsibility mainly focuses on the ground floor, poor classroom ventilation may be a common challenge, exposing students and staff to contaminants in the air. Ventilation systems are an often-overlooked area in any building and rarely get the attention they deserve.

Custodial responsibility usually focuses on cleaning the outside of the vents on a regular basis, then follow up with a cleaning solution. This will remove germs and dust from breeding on the surface of the vent and prevent any allergens from blowing in the air.

School maintenance departments should also have a preventative maintenance plan to inspect and clean duct work HVAC coils, along with a routine schedule for changing air filters. Based on the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency’s “Tools for Schools” program, all schools should have a minimum filtration efficiency of MERV 8 in all HVAC applications.

Student Desks, Table Tops, Door Knobs, Handrails, Keyboards and Other Shared Devices — These hotspots can go on and on. What do you think these areas all have in common? You guessed it, they’re all common areas. Everyone on a school campus has access to them.

These areas are also considered common “high touch point” areas and should be routinely cleaned and sanitized as your cleaning program allows. Yes, cleaning for appearance is important, but cleaning for health can make a much bigger impact on your school campus.

No matter which surface or hotspots harbor germs and bacteria, schools are one of the most important places to ensure a clean, safe, well maintained and healthy environment. Simply adjusting cleaning frequencies and using environmentally preferred green cleaning solutions goes a long way toward protecting students and faculty health — cleaning matters.