Students sitting at cafeteria table eating lunch

The severity of this year's flu season is causing some Wake County, North Carolina, parents to voice concerns about their schools' cleaning procedures, according to an article on the WRAL website. Parents said the schools often use water to wipe down lunch tables, instead of disinfectant.

One parent started a petition on after learning her children's school cleaned cafeteria tables with water during the day. The petition had more than 700 signatures and counting as of the end of January.

According to reports, water is used on tables because of the rapid turnaround of classes coming in and out for lunch. But once all students have completed breakfast or lunch for that day, the tables are all cleaned and sanitized. The policy is to save time, but it is also to protect students from chemicals.

The petition requests that Wake County schools consider alternative processes.

"[Water] is just smearing around everything," said Kira Kroboth, who started the petition and has two sons (one with a severe food allergy) at Partnership Elementary School. "Which is dangerous if he comes home with something on his hands, but not to mention the germs. I just cannot imagine how many germs are on that surface with the magnitude of kids that come through."

Cleaning industry experts suggest that during flu season, schools increase the frequency of their cleaning routines and disinfect high-touch areas.

All tabletop surfaces, including those in the cafeteria, library and classrooms, are most likely to have a build-up of germs that can cause flu. Other surfaces — such as the toilet flush lever, the inside lock on stalls or push plates on exit doors — should also get extra attention.

"The rapid turn-around of students in our cafeteria during lunch sessions does not allow for the safe use of chemicals for all children. Wake County Schools Child Nutrition Services uses a surface sanitizer on tables after breakfast sessions and after the final lunch session," a Wake County schools responded in a statement.

Read the full article.