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New Technology Helps Schools Slow the Flu

‘Tis the season for giving, but some gifts you would much rather return. Even worse than the ugly sweater you’ll inevitably unwrap from your mom is a nasty virus that keeps your students home in bed instead of learning at their desks.

December marks the typical start of flu season, but the virus can wreak havoc anytime from early October through May—basically a majority of the school year. Spread primarily from one person to another through a sneeze or cough, viruses are also happy to lie in wait on a desk or water fountain for the next person to come along.

As you know, school absences are devastating in a number of ways, and the financial impact can’t be ignored. In fact, seven states – Missouri, Kentucky, California, Idaho, Illinois, Mississippi and Texas – base their school funding rates in part on attendance levels.

Stay a step ahead

When you consider that approximately 55 million students and 7 million staff members enter one of the public or private schools across the country each day, school administrators have the power to impact the health of about 20 percent of the U.S. population through improved cleaning methods.

First, it’s important to know the difference between “cleaning” and “disinfecting.” Cleaning is the process of physically removing germs (dirt, viruses, bacteria, etc.) from a surface using a detergent or soap. Disinfecting, however, uses chemicals to actually kill the germs on a surface. Often, the most effective process uses both steps—to physically remove as many germs as possible and then kill any that remain.

To stay ahead of the germs that inevitably circulate among school children, the Centers for Disease Control recommends simple routine cleaning and disinfecting as the best way to combat flu season. A few tips:

  1. Use a regular household cleaner to remove viruses and other germs from your school surfaces. Once washed, follow up with a good rinsing and then an EPA-registered disinfectant (and one that’s approved to be effective against the flu) to kill any germs that remain.
  2. For those areas that aren’t visibly soiled, save yourself a step and clean and disinfect with an EPA-registered product that does both.
  3. Phones, computer keyboards and other electronics are among the germiest surfaces in a school, so be sure to use disinfecting wipes on those items regularly.

New technology helps with the deep clean

Flu season is also a good time to complete a deep, thorough cleaning across all of your facilities to help minimize the impact to students and staff. We’ve had great success using an electrostatic sprayer to more effectively distribute sanitizers and disinfectants across surface areas.

The device actually places a positive charge on the liquid before it’s sprayed. Because most surfaces that we clean are negatively charged (or neutral), the opposite charges are attracted to one another. This allows the droplets to be spread more evenly, where they seek out a negatively charged surface. And that means we can achieve a more effective coverage of a surface while using only about one-third of the amount of chemicals we’d usually use with conventional methods.

While this technology is fairly new, it’s really the next evolution of deep cleaning, as the industry gets more effective at providing a deep clean while lessening the exposure to cleaning chemicals and completing the process in a more efficient manner.

And if your school is experiencing a high number of student absences from illness, this can be a hugely beneficial process to clean your entire facility and help increase the overall health of your students.

As a licensed janitorial contractor with TIPS/TAPS and more than 16 years of working with schools, we want to make sure nothing gets in the way of learning. From daycare to K-12 to college and universities, our employees on the front lines believe in that personal touch to deliver a high-quality cleaning service for your schools while taking the burden off you. So, if your school needs help fighting back the flu this year, we’re here to help you improve the gift-giving season for everyone.

After all, the ugly sweater from your mom is bad enough.

Michael Salinas is an operations manager for the Kansas City and northwest Arkansas locations for SG360, a facility services company specializing in environmentally friendly janitorial services, as well as facilities management, restoration services, and inventory management. How are you preparing your school for the upcoming flu season? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or on Twitter @ServiceGroup360.