During September, over 30,000 schools reopened for the first time since lockdown was announced in March. Each and every one has conducted a legally required risk assessment before they've opened their gates, largely focusing on measures, such as cleaning, social distancing and personal hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
However, in the rush to establish ‘bubbles’, set timetables and put one-way-systems in place, have schools allowed for sufficient hygiene measures to keep staff and pupils safe?
One month in, and with the benefit of hindsight, this checklist allows school business managers and headteachers to review their preventative measures and processes in-line with the government guidelines:
1) Make sure that individuals with symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend school
2) Clean hands thoroughly and more often than usual. Need to consider:
- Whether the school has adequate and enough hand washing or hand sanitiser ‘stations’ available
- Supervision of hand sanitiser use given risks around ingestion. This applies more to primary schools and nurseries, but also includes students with complex needs
- Building these routines and expectations into school culture
3) Ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
- Schools need to make sure they have enough tissues and bins available in the school to support everyone in following this approach.
4) Introduce enhanced cleaning arrangements
- This is also applied to equipment and resources. It’s recommended that both staff and students have their own items that aren’t shared
- Classroom resources, such as books or laptops, can be used and shared within a bubble, but should be cleaned frequently
- Other equipment, such as sports equipment, should also be cleaned frequently and always between bubbles
5) Maintain social distancing wherever possible
- If possible, schools should try to stagger starts to the school day or adjust start and finish times for different bubbles
6) Where necessary, wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
What if someone becomes infected at school?
- Engage with the NHS Test and Trace process
- Manage confirmed cases of coronavirus amongst the school community
- Contain any outbreak by following local health protection team advice
What do we recommend?
To the Pump offers a range of hand sanitisers and gels, both alcohol and non-alcohol based. We also have sanitiser stations, so that sanitiser can be put anywhere in a school, and moved around if needed.
Hand drying can be through paper towels or hand dryer units - both have been deemed suitable methods for drying by the World Health Organisation.
The benefit of hand dryers, however, are that you can invest in non-touch or automatic units that minimise the contact points in a washroom. We also have dryers with HEPA filters, that capture bacteria and viruses, which gives added protection.
And if noise is a deciding factor for your school, we also have a range of quiet hand dryers.
As well as non-touch hand dryers, we also provide automatic soap and sanitiser dispensers.
These non-touch units have the benefit of reducing the spread of germs around the washroom (and other areas), as the user is coming into less contact with high touch points.
Air and surface sterilisers
Bathrooms aren’t usually well ventilated, and as they are areas of cross infection, the germs just end up staying in one place. And it’s not feasible to be constantly cleaning bathrooms in schools or to control people’s movements or what they come into contact with.
So, air and surface sterilisers can help with this and improve the hygiene of bathrooms by providing ongoing sterilisation.
Anti-bacterial door handles
These handles use silver ion technology that penetrate the cell membrane of germs, and kills them. As door handles are high touch points, especially in schools, these handles can provide added hygiene protection by further reducing the spread of germs.