This is the first part of a three-part article on how distributors can help cleaning staffs keep students healthy and in the classroom.

Cleaning isn’t only for appearance’s sake. It’s also about protecting the facility occupants’ health. Infection control is important in any building, but particularly in schools, where disease can spread quickly among vulnerable populations.

“[Occupants] share classes and facilities with a large number of different people, which increases their exposure to more germs that could make them ill,” says Charles P. Gerba, professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Never has the potential for problems been clearer than in the last school year, which featured an outbreak of Enterovirus D68, a flu epidemic and cases of measles across the country.

Preventing the spread of illness in schools is key in improving absentee rates, which affect school funding in many parts of the country. Nearly 60 million school days are lost each year to colds and the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“If we want to keep kids in the classroom, and keep them healthy and ready to learn, having a robust infection control program is important,” says Mark Bishop, vice president of policy at Healthy Schools Campaign in Chicago.

What’s more, cleaning for health can have a positive effect on students’ learning outcomes, according to studies by the EPA and by Dr. Michael Berry, author of “Protecting the Built Environment: Cleaning for Health.” He found that reducing indoor pollution, including bacteria, viruses, dust, allergens, molds and fungal spores, greatly enhances the well being of building occupants.

“A healthy, clean environment should be a top priority for schools — it’s their job to provide an appropriate learning environment,” says Ben Walker, director of business development, ManageMen, Inc., in Salt Lake City.

next page of this article:
Teaching Proper Cleaning Techniques For Schools