3d rendering of back to school concept during COVID-19

As hundreds of thousands of U.S. schools prepare for in-person learning, it is no surprise that cleanliness and disinfection are top-of-mind, according to a recent survey conducted by OpenWorks.

The survey, which polled more than 200 U.S. educators across the country, revealed that 92 percent plan to increase the frequency of their cleaning and disinfecting efforts, and more than half of them will increase these efforts to multiple times a day. Those polled believe that the school areas most prone to germs include: bathrooms (89 percent), cafeterias (81 percent), buses (77 percent), locker rooms (71 percent), computer labs (70 percent), regular classrooms (67 percent), gyms (66 percent), and playgrounds (66 percent). The surfaces they believe are the most prone to germs include: door handles (90 percent), drinking fountains and water station areas (81 percent), desks (80 percent), railings (76 percent), computers (75 percent), gym equipment and classroom supplies (67 percent), light switches (66 percent) and playground equipment (54 percent).

The increased focus on cleaning and disinfecting is for good reason.

“As a result of COVID-19, cleaning and disinfecting is essential in helping to protect the safety and welfare of teachers, students, parents, families and the community at large,” says Eric Roudi, president and CEO of OpenWorks, in a press release. “Schools are moving from basic, manual cleaning procedures, like vacuuming and wiping down surfaces, into specialized, more advanced cleaning protocols that include disinfecting. It is a trend we don’t see waning any time soon.”

Roudi said that OpenWorks has experienced a sharp increase in demand for its advanced cleaning and disinfecting measures since the outbreak of COVID-19. To help prevent the spread of viruses and infections, the company’s nationwide network follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on processes, equipment, and products. Its elite service providers use EPA-approved disinfectants and are individually certified by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council.

Additional findings from the recent OpenWorks survey of educators also revealed that:

- Seventy-nine percent plan to follow social distancing measures, yet only 59 percent plan to reduce the number of students in the classroom.

- Seventy-four percent are ensuring all educators and staff wear masks and 64 percent are ensuring all students wear masks.

- Fifty-eight percent of educators are ensuring their school buses are cleaned and disinfected.

- Forty-five percent are hiring additional maintenance and janitorial staff or increasing their hours to clean and disinfect more frequently.

- Thirty-nine percent are planning to have their indoor air systems (heating, ventilation, and cooling) inspected or upgraded prior to their schools reopening to students.

- Thirty-eight percent are hiring additional outside cleaning and disinfection crews to clean and disinfect more frequently.