While proper cleaning procedures may lessen the need to disinfect, there are still instances when disinfecting schools' high touch surfaces is essential. During an influenza or MRSA outbreak, for example, schools should ramp up their cleaning and disinfection efforts.

“Sometimes you do have to break out the heavy artillery,” says Rathey.

In these situations, he recommends using an EPA-registered disinfectant with a kill claim for the specific virus of concern.

“Take time to switch out your procedures and focus less on cleaning for appearance and more on cleaning for health,” says Bishop. “So reduce your frequency of floor care and spend more time making sure you’re cleaning doorknobs and light switches.”

Even under normal circumstances, schools' high touch surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis, says Larry Johnson, product manager for S. Freedman & Sons, Landover, Md.

“One of the most important things that needs to be disinfected on a daily basis are the desks in the classrooms,” he says. “That’s where students spend most of their time, and it’s not always the same student sitting at a desk.”

A study by the microbiologist, Dr. Charles Gerba, also showed that schools' high touch surfaces in schools include the cafeteria table, computer mouse and keyboard, the library table and the water fountain.

It’s also important to remember school gymnasiums when creating a disinfectant touch-point list, especially if MRSA is a concern.

“In gyms, focus on lockers and showers — things that kids touch every day,” says Johnson. “Tools and equipment, such as wrestling mats, should also be cleaned and disinfected at least once a day.”

When disinfecting, it’s critical to follow manufacturer instructions and adhere to proper dwell times, even if pressed for time.

“A lot of people are spraying and wiping disinfectant,” says Johnson. “They might be removing some germs, but they’re not giving the chemical the time it needs to kill everything. If it says 10 minutes dwell time then that’s what it takes to kill the bacteria.”

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