Teachers are tasked with the sacred duty of caring and guiding the precious minds of children. Of course, this includes keeping them safe from illnesses and injuries. Even before things like the COVID-19 pandemic this could be a challenge. Though today things like cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting classrooms, learning materials and general learning space is more important than ever before.
Thankfully, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with other agencies have stepped up to offer some important guidelines and helpful tips to maintain a clean as well as disinfected learning area for children to not only learn, but thrive.
The following is a list of things to consider for maintaining a clean and disinfected classroom on a daily and weekly basis.
Daily Classroom Cleaning & Disinfecting
Left to their own devices children are easily capable of making a new mess faster than an old mess can be cleaned up. Of course, engaging the kids in the cleaning process is an absolute must that teaches them to take responsibility for their things, while also helping to keep things neat and tidy.
Encouraging younger children to wash their hands and keeping good habits around the classroom helps. Older children can even help wipe things down with disinfecting wipes. Though ultimately, the final responsibility for making sure that your classroom is properly clean and sanitized falls on the shoulders of teachers and custodial staff who come in at the end of the day.
To help maintain a clean and thoroughly disinfected classroom teachers should consider doing the following things.
Regularly Wipe Down High-Touch Surfaces
This includes things like desks, doorknobs, craft boxes, drawer handles, smartboard devices and similar items that children will exchange throughout the course of a day. Ideally you want to use a combination cleaner with disinfectant. Though leaving certified disinfectant wipes in key locations can help to quickly disinfect high-touch surfaces throughout the day.
Hand Sanitizer & Tissues For Student Use
It used to be that there would be a box of facial tissues on the teacher’s desk and students would have to come up to use it when necessary. Though placing hand sanitizer and tissues throughout the room as well as disinfecting wipes can help students get quick access throughout the day. Just make sure that younger students know how to use them properly and that they are not toys or art supplies.
Place No-Touch Trash Cans In The Classroom
Trash cans are another one of those common places in a classroom where germs can easily spread through cross-contamination. All it takes is one used tissue touching the brim or the lid to potentially cross-contaminate to the next student who needs to throw something away.
No-Touch trash cans typically use a simple foot pedal to flip open the lid. The students can then throw away whatever they need to, without having to actually touch the trash receptacle with their own hands.
Daily Wipe Down Checklist
The following checklist can help you remember all the key locations that need to be wiped down with an anti-bacterial cleaner or a rate disinfecting wipe. All of these surfaces should be wiped down at the end of each day. If your students leave the classroom for an extended period of time for gym, or to visit a specialist teacher for art of music, you might have time to do a quick wipe down as part of your standard prep time.
- Door handles and knobs
- Desks and chairs
- Lockers & Cubbies
- Shared Computer Keyboards & Mice
- Shared iPads & Tablets
- Trash bins
- Light switches
- Pencil Sharpener Handles
- Sinks & Surrounding Areas
- Whiteboards & Chalkboards
- Shared Electronics Including printers
- Any Other Shared Learning Materials
The order in which you clean and disinfect can also be a factor in preventing cross-contamination of bacteria, viruses and other dangerous microbes. If possible, try to clean the classroom items in the following order.
First, start by disinfecting common high-touch areas. This includes things like desks, chairs, door handles, light switches and communal play areas.
When it comes to cleaning electronics make sure to use a product that is rated to be safe for cleaning electronics to prevent damaging them accidentally. This includes wiping down and sanitizing computer stations, keyboards, phones and items like iPads and tablets. If you have a smart board in your classroom make sure to wipe down all the interactive devices students use to operate it.
Cleaning the Floors is also a critical part of maintaining a clean classroom on a daily basis as well as in the long-term. Carpeting and hard surface flooring like tile and linoleum can be magnets for trapping bacteria and viruses. This is especially true in high-traffic areas like rooms, gymnasiums and cafeterias. Talk to your custodial staff to see what measures they use to clean the floors. Most have some type of disinfecting protocol in place, but if they don’t you should consider implementing your own.
Empty trash cans and other waste receptacles. Trash cans are well-known for their potential to cause cross-contamination. When emptying trash cans, avoid touching any used tissues or other waste that can transfer germs to your own skin. Wash your hands or clean them with hand sanitizer immediately after emptying the trash can.
If you need to wipe down the outside of the trash can, make sure to use disposable disinfecting wipes. They can then be thrown away immediately afterward to ensure that no pathogens can spread back to other high-touch surfaces.
Communicate With Your Custodial Staff
There can sometimes be a little disconnect between teachers and custodial staff. Oftentimes janitors come in long after teachers have left the building to affect a deep clean. Take the time to speak with your custodial staff to make sure you understand their methodology as well as making sure that they are cleaning with the level of care that you need.
Not only does this ensure that your classroom is getting the cleaning it needs after students have gone home, but it also arms you with the information you might need to answer parent’s questions.