- As districts prepare to fully reopen schools this fall, strong cleaning and sanitization protocols can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and alleviate families' concerns, EdTech: Focus on K-12 reports, adding that classroom technology also shouldn’t be overlooked, as shared devices can harbor germs and bacteria.
- Hand sanitizing stations are especially crucial when sharing devices, and the devices should also be cleaned between each use. Some laptop and tablet storage carts come equipped with ultraviolet sanitization technology, and there are also sanitization services that collect and clean devices.
- Having several hand sanitizing stations scattered throughout school buildings can make it easy for students to clean their hands frequently, and ventilation systems should also be updated before the school year starts in the fall to help further prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.
When the upcoming school year starts, some families may hesitate to send their children back full-time, especially since vaccines aren't yet available for children under 12. As a result, having a strong safety and cleaning protocol in place can go a long way toward easing the minds of unsure parents.
An EdWeek survey conducted this spring found 91% of educator respondents reporting there are now more intensive cleaning protocols than prior to school closures, and 85% said disinfectant wipes are now widely available in classrooms — an increase of 8 percentage points since last June.
Studies of coronavirus cases have found hand-washing, good ventilation, social distancing and contact tracing allow schools to reopen safely. And studies done prior to the pandemic show cleaner schools result in fewer absences. With research suggesting COVID-19 is spread though aerosolized particles, fresh air and better ventilation may further help keep schools safer.
In March, experts from the Infectious Diseases Society of America supported the reopening of schools that used proper protective measures including masks and social distancing. In the wake of further research on social distancing, some states — including Massachusetts, Virginia and Indiana — have adopted three-foot minimum social distancing policies for their schools. These precautions lowered infection rates, but despite falling virus numbers, schools must remain vigilant as variants emerge.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends schools limit the sharing of pens, pencils and art supplies. If difficult-to-clean items must be used, set them aside for 72 hours before allowing them to be reused. It also recommends staff regularly clean door handles, sink handles, drinking fountains and buses. Additionally, it warns to properly ventilate spaces when cleaning and disinfecting products are used.