A higher education campus hosts a large variety of specialized spaces, each of them in turn playing host, unfortunately, to their share of germs. Standard sanitization procedures for cold and flu season are one thing, and of course, colleges and universities aren’t responsible for every space their students share – but when there’s a norovirus outbreak, for instance, quick and clear action is called for.

Norovirus is famous for ruining cruise voyages, but a campus and a cruise ship share a crucial similarity – each is their own little city of unique locations. Norovirus is highly contagious, requiring only a few particles to cause sickness. According to Cleveland Clinic reports, it can survive for weeks on a doorknob and people can shed virus particles days after the “stomach flu” has run its course.

A disinfection protocol has to seriously account for the touch points, surfaces, and unique needs of the different spaces your students and staff share. Part of that is planning targeted procedures for janitorial staff. Part of it is training for those procedures and special equipment, but part of it is also outreach to the student body.

Clear messaging to students about keeping shared spaces clean, handwashing, and staying home from class to take care of themselves helps everyone step up as part of the solution, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An active, directed disinfection response helps you underscore that message and support the student community. Consider these technologies that help you disinfect surfaces and spaces that would be difficult for traditional spray-and-wipe:

  • UVC (ultraviolet light disinfection)
  • Electrostatic water spray

Norovirus isn’t the only reason for clear outbreak response protocols, but it’s a good example of why protocols are needed. Since there’s no vaccine for norovirus, students have to depend on each other – and the institution’s response – to prioritize wellness in their community.

Gordon Buntrock is National Director of Service Delivery for education services at ABM and has more than 40 years of experience in the facility services industry. He joined ABM in July 2016.