Although the first day of school represents a clean slate for students and their families, for facility managers, it's about putting a plan in place to ensure that hallways, classrooms and restrooms stay pristine well beyond the first day of classes. In order to protect the health and academic performance of students, Cintas Corporation announced three general cleaning principles facility managers should be mindful of as they develop their yearly cleaning plans.

"Student health and safety should always remain a top priority when cleaning schools," said Dave Mesko, senior director of marketing and strategy, Cintas. "By creating a clean and safe environment for students, facility managers will help to reduce absenteeism and improve student performance."

These tips will help facility managers keep schools in top condition:

1. Improve air quality. Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a commonly cited problem contributing to absences and poor school performance in educational facilities. To improve IAQ, place matting at all entrances and high traffic zones of the school to prevent particulates such as dust and dirt from being tracked in the building. Matting placed inside locker rooms and exterior entryways will also help prevent soil, mud and water from traveling inside the building. To maintain fresh IAQ and clean facilities, ensure that matting is regularly laundered to remove captured debris.

To further address IAQ concerns, schedule A/C coil deep cleaning services to remove the buildup and mold that accumulates in frequently used units. A/C units that have not been properly maintained can cause odors, trigger allergies and worsen existing asthma conditions. Regular A/C coil cleanings can improve overall IAQ, lower energy bills and extend the life of units.

2. Clean safely.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), millions of students and faculty are exposed to polluted indoor air, pesticides and chemical fumes in school environments each day, which can negatively impact performance. Since school funding is directly influenced by student performance, keep safe cleaning top of mind when choosing products and equipment. To help reduce exposure to toxins, consider implementing Green Seal-approved chemicals.

In addition, chemical dispensing systems reduce the likelihood of improper chemical storage, spills and injuries. Locked systems also help ensure that little hands don't get into them.

3. Prevent the spread of bacteria. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, nearly 22 million school days are lost to cold viruses. To help reduce illness and absenteeism, implement a suite of infection prevention tools such as antimicrobial soaps, automated flushing systems and hands-free towel dispensers.

Additionally, enforce a cleaning and disinfection program specifically for high-tough surfaces including door handles, light switches, desks and supplies. Increase cleaning frequency during winter months to prevent against illnesses that thrive during this time, such as the cold and flu. Schedule frequent restroom cleanings throughout the school to disinfect and sanitize these germ hotspots. Use microfiber mops and towels to quickly remove dangerous bacteria and reduce risk of cross-contamination between multiple surfaces.