kids get on a school bus

Taking cleaning for health beyond the classroom

I think all of us know how important it is to have a successful green cleaning program in place at our schools, colleges and universities. But once you have one implemented, maintaining it can be a challenge.

The question every year seems to be: What can we do to stay in front of and help reduce and prevent the spread of infectious diseases? No matter how great of a comprehensive green cleaning program you have, these pathogens always find their way into our schools.
It’s important to remember that to control cleanliness inside a facility, we often have to consider the original source of contaminants. For example, bed bugs don’t often originate in school classrooms, they are brought in from student homes. Dirt doesn’t stem from facility lobbies, it’s tracked in on occupant shoes.

A strong cleaning program will prevent pathogens from growing within schools, but to truly keep pathogens under control, we must identify and target our efforts on their source. The easiest, and most often ignored path into the facility is through the school bus.

School buses not only carry roughly 25 million children to school each day, they also transport countless amounts of germs. A student contaminates an area as soon as they touch the seat or handrail. So we have to ask ourselves, what percentage of the buses are carrying sick children? The answer is, all of them.

Keeping a school bus clean and as germ-free as possible is crucial to preventing the transmission of communicable diseases.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some germs and bacteria can live two hours or longer on surfaces. This supports the importance of cleaning frequency, especially since some common germs found on school buses are Influenza A, Avian Flu, three versions of Norovirus, hand foot and mouth, Scabies, HIV, Hepatitis B and C, MSRA and Staph.       
School buses are mobile incubators that are prone to the spread of infectious diseases. In addition to the number of students who may introduce bacteria and viruses when they board the bus, surfaces such as the seatbacks and handrails can also contribute to the spread of germs. Keeping these areas clean can help prevent germs and the spread of disease.

The challenge we had was to figure out how to effectively clean and disinfect the 185 school buses used to transport students to and from school every day, without disrupting schedules.

After doing some homework and inquiring with other local school districts, it was clear that many of us have similar challenges in this area. We had to think outside the box on this one.

We began by reaching out to our transportation director. The goal with these discussions was to develop a daily and weekly bus cleaning schedule. Although these discussions are ongoing, they have resulted in an overall cleaning plan.

Key factors of that plan include a detailed cleaning schedule and checklist, a list of recommended green cleaning products and equipment, and basic information in proper infection control.

It’s also important to establish routine training sessions with bus drivers and custodial staff. During these meetings, communicate and educate both groups on the differences between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting, and the role each step plays in an overall infection prevention program.

next page of this article:
Cleaning Technology Fights Contamination