Schools are now opening up for fall. Although some schools are opting into virtual learning, many are still going to have in-person instruction or a hybrid version of the two. However, in-person learning comes with many challenges.
According to Dr. Kevin Kavanaugh, in an article he wrote for Infection Control Today, he states, “mounting evidence has found that children become infected and shed the virus (a process that occurs when a virus replicates inside the body and is released into the environment), that the virus aerosolizes, that school buildings are crowded with poor air circulation and quality, and finally that 24% of teachers are at high risk for COVID-19.” (1) With this evidence, what can schools do to slow or stop the spread of this virus? Creating barriers with shields, or sneeze guards and adding hand sanitizing stations at entrances is a great start, but more can be done.
If your school is looking for more ways to prevent the spread of this devastating disease consider going touch-free. This will require your school to upgrade or to add equipment, which may be an expense that has been avoided or not even considered. In this article from Facilitiesnet.com “Restroom Upgrades Must Consider Coronavirus, Hygiene Issues”, it states that “managers should keep in mind three goals in planning upgrades: adapting to the reality of COVID-19, raising the productivity of custodial and maintenance workers, and reducing costs. By taking this approach, managers are more likely to partially or completely offset upgrade costs, improve hygiene, and select more effective products.” (3)
No-touch products eliminate the need for hand-operation and therefore greatly reduces the number of touchpoints around your school. The fewer touchpoints you have, the harder it is for students and staff to pick up the virus. And, because these items are not being touched, this means they will not need to be constantly re-sanitized or disinfected. This takes some burden off the custodial staff, saving them time and cleaning products, which could then be used for more immediate needs. In this guide, we present our best “no-touch” products for schools.
Make opening your doors a touch-free operation and reduce the spread of germs with this foot-operated door pull. Constructed of aluminum with a silver finish, this foot door pull features a front grooved design to make it easy to catch the bottom of shoes and reduce slippage. There are also two rubber bumpers on the front to keep the door pull from damaging walls or other objects. Mounting hardware is included.
Our popular, commercial-grade kick down door holders keep your doors in place and are foot-operated for a hand-free function. Choose from many styles and sizes to fit most doors, even for large steel or industrial-type doors. Adding foot-operated, hands-free door hardware helps decrease touchpoints at entrances or exits as well as doors to offices, classrooms, or other inner-facility doors.
The restroom is an area that sees a high volume of traffic and is considered one of the most difficult to clean. Enter a highly contagious virus and the restroom is now a hot spot of contamination that needs to be constantly monitored, re-sanitized, and regularly disinfected, more than ever before. This is especially true for schools or other service-based facilities for children (think daycares, privately owned pre-schools, or churches that proved these services).
Here's a list of recommended automatic, no-touch soap dispensers that we can provide your school or facility.
Another dispenser in your restroom that can be upgraded to be hands-free is your paper towel dispensers. You might be wondering if automatic hand dryers would be better. However, it's been proven that paper towels actually assist in the removal of germs if handwashing did not catch everything. The opposite is true with hand dryers. “Touchless paper towel dispensers might be safer than hand dryers, as the hot air could spread the virus particles.” (4)
Here's a list of recommended automatic, no-touch paper towel dispensers we can provide your school or facility.
Restrooms are not the only areas that hygiene is a concern. Classrooms are where students and teachers spend the majority of their time during school hours. If your classrooms do not have handwashing facilities, consider adding no-touch, automatic hand sanitizing stations, or touch-free tabletop dispensers.
Here's a list of recommended automatic, no-touch hand sanitizer dispensers and stands we can provide your school or facility.
Many schools still use traditional manual pencil sharpeners in their classrooms, and No. 2 pencils are still popular. If that's the case, then those pencil sharpeners are used often and would be considered a high touchpoint. A simple solution is to switch to an electric pencil sharpener. This eliminates the need for the student to have to touch anything to sharpen their pencils.
Here's a list of recommended electric, touch-free pencil sharpeners we can provide your school or facility.
Another item that can be upgraded throughout your facility is trash cans and recycling receptacles. Make sure that the cans have lids that cover the waste at all times while also providing a touch-free operation when disposing of trash.
Here's a list of recommended trash and recycling cans with no-touch lids we can provide your school or facility.
In an interview on WWMT Newschannel 3 with the Lead Administrator of the Kalamazoo Christian Schools, Marc Verkaik discusses what changes they've made in their schools. “We converted our bathrooms to touch-less devices. We’re converting all of our drinking fountains to bottle filling stations so there are no more lips touching on drinking fountains. Sanitizer as well, we purchased a number of those dispensers. We’re also fortunate that every classroom does have a sink so kids can wash hands frequently.” (2) All these changes will go a long way in preventing the spread of disease and keeping their students safe.
What if your school can't make the upgrades to hands-free, no-touch equipment? Then make sure you increase your cleaning and disinfecting protocols for high touchpoint areas and equipment. “If managers cannot upgrade other touchpoints in restrooms, such as doors and dispensers, they need to ensure such surfaces are cleaned and disinfected using proper protocols several times a day, depending on usage.” (3) If upgrading your entire school to hands-free dispensers and equipment is not in your budget, try gradually upgrading one or two rooms at a time. As you upgrade, you can simply adjust your cleaning and disinfecting schedules.
From upgrading classroom accessories to restroom dispensers, or increasing sanitization and disinfection efforts, it's important to do what you can to reduce touchpoints whenever possible.
We hope you found this guide helpful. To read more about our products, like our locker parts, our parking lot barricades, whiteboards and more, or about solutions to common school maintenance concerns, please visit the School Fix Blog.
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