We all know how quickly illness spreads in schools. It’s been in the news quite a bit lately: Norovirus. E. coli. Flu. Even measles has made a comeback, in large part due to distrust of proven science that vaccinations protect our kids, especially those whose immune systems are compromised, or who are too young to receive their shots.
When a campus is the epicenter of an outbreak, what’s the typical protocol for school decontamination?
Latency of infectious diseases in schools
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “individuals infected with measles are contagious four days before and four days after the telltale rash appears, and that 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.” Thankfully, the measles virus can only live about two hours outside the body, but other very serious diseases, according to the CDC, have more staying power in the environments in which we live, work, and learn:
- Hepatitis A: Several months
- Hepatitis B: Up to one week
- Hepatitis C: Up to four days
- Average common cold strain: Up to one week
- C. difficile: Up to 5 months
- Norovirus: Multiple weeks
- Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): Multiple weeks; highly resilient to arid conditions
Now, consider—realistically—how diligent kids are at following proper hand-washing procedures, and how many surfaces they touch every single school day. And we can’t put all the blame on the kids; adults are responsible for maintaining food service and janitorial protocols.
In a single Seattle school district, health department officials bestowed unsatisfactory ratings to cafeterias at 11 of 12 schools during inspections conducted in the latter half of 2018. Violations included “red critical” issues such as food stored at dangerous temperatures, lack of proper hand washing stations, insufficient training, and lack of food-handling permits (Source: Ann Dorfield, reporter for KUOW News, Dec. 2018).
Is your school’s kitchen and cafeteria due for a deep-cleaning?
Who cleans and disinfects contaminated school facilities?
Do you remember scrubbing the top of your homeroom desk each Friday before the final bell? Many teachers have their students help with basic classroom chores, knowing that janitorial personnel are already stretched thin. Even when fully staffed, a school’s janitorial staff is juggling multiple responsibilities. Under normal circumstances, they tackle sections of the school at a time, over a period of days or weeks for stringent, deep cleaning. Should a serious outbreak or contamination occur, it’s necessary to bring in professional disinfecting services with specialized equipment, supplies, and skills.
Biohazard cleanup companies step in to perform OSHA-compliant decontamination protocols developed for cleaning, sanitizing, and targeted disinfecting—school wide. Teams clean all surfaces within reach of everyday human contact, as well as pathogen-friendly HVAC systems. In the case of a particularly virulent airborne disease with a long latency period, they’ll address air quality issues and otherwise “out-of-reach” surfaces and textiles. We even remediate contaminated bus fleets and contaminated refrigeration and food handling equipment.
Where these duties might take your staff weeks to safely complete, reputable biohazard companies get the job done in days, or even hours. And they get it done right the first time.
We’re one such company. Bio Recovery provides trauma-related cleaning services, infection control, and other emergency environmental assistance for the private, public and industrial sector. For nearly two decades, we’ve developed comprehensive checklists for numerous biohazard cleanup situations that meet or exceed OSHA, EPA, and local air quality standards.
We also understand that chemical sensitivity issues are a concern for parents, faculty, and staff, so we offer effective “green cleaning” sanitizing for schools. Our procedures and compounds also help prevent resistant pathogens, something daily wipe-downs with bleach towelettes actually encourage.
What is your school district’s emergency plan for an infectious disease outbreak? Call us at 1-888-611-3672 to find out how we can be part of your critical response team. Bio Recovery is here to help you protect your school—and your community—by reducing or eliminating pathogenic exposure and re-contamination.