The American Cleaning Institute recently released a survey indicating that 89 percent of students aged 8 to 17 always wash their hands after using the restrooms at school. At first glance that high number sounds like great news. But after thinking back to my report cards, 89 percent is actually only a B+. This grade really needs to be an A because clean hands are the most important way of stopping the spread of disease, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In last month’s issue of Contracting Profits, we featured an article that outlined which soap and hand sanitizer products used in K-12 schools encourage students to practice proper hand hygiene. In addition to identifying products, building service contractors need to make sure dispensers continually get stocked. According to the survey, 37 percent of respondents said their schools don’t always have all the soap, water, paper towels and drying equipment needed to wash their hands. Without supplies, students can’t wash their hands.

In addition, restrooms need to be cleaned throughout the day. Based on the study, 15 percent of students say sometimes they don’t wash their hands because the restrooms aren’t clean; 47 percent of kids will sometimes avoid school restrooms altogether because they are not clean.

As school boards look to squeeze budgets even further, BSCs should use the importance of hand washing and restroom cleanliness to their advantage. When cleaning frequencies get cut, restrooms get dirtier and possibly even run out of soap and paper, which prevents kids from washing their hands.

This leads to more cross-contamination and spreading of disease — and more sick kids and higher absenteeism. Point out that schools receive funding based on attendance. A cut in cleaning expenditures can result in more student sick days and, therefore, less capital for the district.