It can be difficult to stop the spread of infections at your school. Even before Covid, colds, and the flu circulated schools constantly causing illness, an increase in sick pay for staff, and impacting pupils learning.
It may seem inevitable that this will happen at your school, but it doesn’t have to be.
Having a consistent cleaning schedule can significantly reduce the spread of infection.
The Importance of Regular Cleaning in Schools
It only takes seconds for someone to create an impression. If people visit your school and it’s untidy or dirty, it will create a bad impression that could stick.
An untidy or dirty environment looks unprofessional, disorganised, and may seem as if you don’t care about your school or those in it.
Having an unclean school environment could damage your reputation which could impact your admissions and ultimately lead to a reduction in funds allocated to your school.
Slips, trips, and falls are the most common reason for accidents at work. Ensuring floors are dried as soon as they are washed is one of the ways you can prevent injuries, sickness absence, or claims.
Protects Your Equipment
Cleaning ensures equipment lasts longer. Taking care of things, especially expensive items like computers or even flooring will prevent wear and tear and they should last longer and provide better value for money.
Around 50% of teachers stayed late to clean their classroom.
While keeping your school clean and tidy should be everyone’s responsibility, it is unfair that teachers should have to spend their own time staying late to ensure their classrooms are safe for their pupils coming in the next day.
Having a consistent cleaning routine can save time by keeping the school maintained on a daily basis and teachers can prepare their lessons instead of cleaning their classrooms.
Cleaning can Reduce Costs
When 80% of communicable diseases are transferred by touch, infections could run rampant in your school without a consistent cleaning routine.
Hiring professional cleaners to monitor high-touch areas and provide a regular cleaning schedule will help reduce infections amongst pupils and staff and reduce sickness pay.
Teacher sickness absence in England between 2018 and 2019 was 4.1 average days with 54% of teachers taking sickness absence. This led to 2,133,254 days being lost.
This is a waste of money for schools when budgets are already tight. It also leads to stress trying to find cover at the last minute and is disruptive for pupils.
An environment can impact students’ attendance, health and wellbeing, and overall performance.
When pupils have a clean classroom, 83% of teachers say there is a noticeable change in pupil behaviour and performance.
YoungMinds, a mental health charity, found a link between the emotional wellbeing of students at school and academic achievement and success in later life.
Yet only 8% of teachers said described their school as ‘very clean’. Cleanliness in schools is so bad that over half a million secondary school children did not drink during school to avoid using the toilets. With 52% of pupils reporting them as dirty and 12% said they lacked toilet roll or handwash.
Pupils who didn’t eat or drink to avoid the toilets inevitably suffered physically with headaches, trouble with concentration, and 20% said they were more easily annoyed.
Schools are supposed to be the ideal environment for children to learn and prepare them for the future. When a regular cleaning schedule is simple to implement, there should be no excuse for not having clean spaces.
Attract High-quality Staff
Schools aren’t just a place for students to learn, it is also a workplace for many staff. An unclean workplace can increase stress and reduce productivity.
A clean workplace can impact mental health and 90% of teachers reported they feel a difference with their mental health when their workplace is clean.
Also, 93% of teachers stated their stress levels impacted the way they interact with pupils.
If your staff are stressed and causing a ripple effect of creating a negative environment, then attracting new employees will be made difficult.
Gain Parents Trust
More than three in five parents have ongoing concerns that their kids are exposed to germs at school and 50% pack lunches for their children because they think the cafeteria is unclean.
Cleanliness is a basic provision you should be providing for pupils at your school. If parents feel the school is unhygienic, it could impact your admissions and your relationship with current parents.
This is easily rectified by communicating with parents about how you are tackling cleanliness at your school.
It is also about supporting parents when pupils are sick and letting them know that it is best to keep their child off school. There are lots of ways to do this, including organising their work is sent out to them to ensure they are not missing out.
When 80% of communicable diseases are spread by touch, it is vital to encourage good hand hygiene in schools.
Almost half of children up to 10 years of age don’t practice proper hand hygiene with 42% not using soap.
This can be resolved by ensuring soap is always available and showing pupils how to wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.
Supervising younger children can increase compliance and can lead to a reduction in infections.
Using hand washing signs has also been proven to increase compliance.
A sign that provides the six steps of handwashing for pupils to follow, could help to ensure they practice proper hand hygiene.
Wetting their hands, applying soap, washing for 20 seconds, rinsing with water, drying thoroughly (damp hands spread 1,000 times more bacteria than dry), and finally turning off the water with a paper towel.
How to Provide Consistent School Hygiene
Undertake a Cleaning Audit
A school cleaning audit will help list all areas and items that need to be cleaned, when they need to be cleaned, by whom, and what cleaning products should be used.
An audit will help ensure all areas of your school are covered and holds staff accountable for ensuring it is done.
Choosing the Correct Cleaning Products
You should be careful in choosing the correct school cleaning supplies and school cleaning equipment. Some cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that harm the cleaners using them. They also increase air pollution and can cause lung issues.
It is best to choose sustainable cleaning products that are better for everyone’s health, and they tend to last longer which gives you value for money.
Once you have selected the correct cleaning products, you must ensure there are always cleaning products throughout your school.
In one workplace after replacing their flooring, they suddenly had a lot of falls. After investigating they realised it was because the cleaner was using washing-up liquid to wash the floors instead of the appropriate cleaning product because it meant going to another part of the building which was inconvenient.
Make sure you have safe storage areas for cleaning products throughout the building or provide a cleaning trolley or caddy that can be easily taken around the building.
Create Cleaning Policies
Have cleaning and hand hygiene policies that are made accessible to all staff and perhaps even parents and pupils.
These will set out what is expected and makes it clear to everyone what the cleaning responsibilities are.
Creating such policies could gain trust with parents who may be impressed that your school is prioritising cleanliness and their children’s wellbeing.
Encourage Pupils to Participate
Cleaning should be everyone’s responsibility. Educate pupils on tidying items away after using them and throwing rubbish in the bin.
You could organise litter picks at your school or in the local community to highlight to your pupils the importance of taking care of your environment.
Hiring a Cleaning Service
While a professional cleaning service will be an added cost to your school, it could save you money in the long-term.
Professional cleaners are trained and will know how to keep your school consistently clean to help prevent infections. Reducing infections saves your school money on sickness pay and protects your staff and pupils.
Your school’s cleanliness can hugely impact staff, pupils, and parents. Protect those in your care by ensuring school hygiene is maintained.
It will not only reduce illness, but it will help to reduce your costs.