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COVID-19 Cleaning protocols for schools

An image of cleaning suppliesSchool boards should review their cleaning protocols and reinforce them if needed to meet current public health requirements.

Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces at least twice daily. More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be necessary, depending on the frequency of use and extent of soilage.​

CLEANING & DISINFECTI​NG PLANS​
School boards should develop a plan for enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of schools

  1. Review existing practices to determine where enhancements can be made, including:​
    • ​​frequency and timing of cleaning/disinfection;
    • areas to clean and/or disinfect
    • choice of cleaning products
    • child safety
    • staffing
    • signage
    • PPE for cleaning staff​
  2. Review inventory to determine items to be stored, moved, or removed altogether to reduce handling or challenges with cleaning them (e.g. porous or soft items such as stuffed toys, area rugs, fabric seating, etc.)
    • ​​Limit the use of shared objects (e.g. sports equipment, art supplies, toys, etc.), or clean shared objects between each use

​CLEANING & DISINFECTING FREQUENCY​

​Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces at least twice daily. More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be necessary, depending on the frequency of use and extent of soilage.

WHAT TO CLEAN AND WHAT TO DISINFECT

Clean and disin​fect high touch surfaces, including:​

  • ​Washrooms (e.g. toilet fixtures, faucets)
  • Eating areas (e.g. tables, sinks, countertops)
  • ​Doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, touch screens, push buttons, handrails, computers, photocopiers, sports equipment, toys, etc.

Clean plastic or metal outdoor surfaces using soap and water. Cleaning of outdoor wooden surfaces is not recommended.

See the full list at the bottom of this document.​

CLEANING PRODUCTS AND ​METHODS​ ​

Cleaners:

  • Br​eak down grease and remove organic material from the surface.
  • Are used separately before disinfectants.
  • Can be purchased with cleaner and disinfectant combined in a single product.

Disinfectants:

  • ​​Have chemicals that kill most germs.
  • Applied after the surfaces have been cleaned.
  • Have a Drug Identification Number (DIN).

​​Disinfectant Wipes:

  • Have combined cleaners and disinfectants in one solution.
  • May become dry due to fast drying properties. Should be discarded if they become dry.
  • Not recommended for heavily soiled surfaces.
  • ​​​​Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19
  • Products that both clean and disinfect are preferable (e.g. hydrogen peroxide products)
  • Only use cleaning and disinfectant products that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). A DIN is an 8-digit number given by Health Canada that confirms it is approved for use in Canada
  • Where possible, use pre-mixed solution 
  • Check expiry dates and always follow manufacturer’s instructions
  • Wear gloves and any other personal protective equipment recommended by the manufacturer when handling cleaning products, including wipes
  • Allow adequate contact time for disinfectant to kill germs (see product label)
  • Use damp cleaning methods such as damp clean cloths, and/or a wet mop 
  • Do not dry dust or sweep which can distribute virus droplets into the air
  • Contaminated disposable cleaning items (e.g. mop heads, cloths) should be placed in a lined garbage bin before disposing of them with regular waste
  • Reusable cleaning items can be washed using regular laundry soap and hot water (60-90°C)

​​ISOLATION ROOM​

​All schools have a room that can be used should a student or staff member become ill, including PPE available in the room.

​These rooms should be cleaned after each use.

BATHROOMS

​Schools should ensure that bathrooms are cleaned frequently and that there is an adequate supply of soap at all times. Paper hand towels are preferable to hand dryers.

​Schools should timetable bathroom breaks in the school day to stagger use of bathrooms and should monitor physical distancing. Signage should be posted that indicates the maximum number of people simultaneously using the bathroom at any given point. Individual students should not be prevented from accessing bathrooms as needed.

LUNCH/FOOD SERVICE

​​​​Students should be encouraged to eat lunch in their classroom with their cohort as much as possible to ensure chances of contact and transmission are minimized.

Stagger lunch times to allow students to wash hands before eating, without creating congestion in washrooms or handwashing stations.

If weather permits, try having lunch breaks outside.

Expectations:

  • Staff and students perform proper hand hygiene before and after eating.
  • Food sharing is not allowed
  • Each student will be required to bring their own drink bottle that is labeled, kept with them during the day and not shared
  • Refill water bottles at water fountains and do not allow students and staff to drink directly from the mouthpiece
  • Remove all self-serving food items and do not permit microwave use
  • Multi-use utensils will be cleaned after each use
  • Schools will not plan non-instructional activities that involve students in preparing or serving food
  • Third party food services, including nutrition programs, will be delivered in a way that any student who wishes to participate can do so. "Grab and Go format" is preferred. All surfaces, bins and containers for food should be disinfected prior to and after each use

​PERSONAL BELONGINGS

Personal belongings brought to school should be minimized.

Personal items being brought to school (e.g. backpack, clothing, sun protection, water bottles, food, etc.) should be labeled and stored separately in cubbies/designated areas or lockers.​

HAND HYGIENE AND RESPIRATORY ETIQUETTE

Hand hygiene refers to hand washing or hand sanitizing to remove or kill the virus and is the most effective way to reduce the transmission of organisms.

Respiratory etiquette aims to reduce the risk of transmitting droplets that may contain the virus directly onto other surfaces where they may be picked up by others.

Education: Staff and students should be provided with targeted, age-appropriate education in proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. The Northwestern Health Unit can provide additional guidance. Age-appropriate posters or signage should be placed around the school.

Supplies: Staff and students should have the supplies they need to conduct appropriate hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette and these supplies should be easily accessible.

Alcohol Based Hand Rub (ABHR) with a minimum 60% alcohol concentration (60-90% recommended in community settings) throughout the school (including ideally at the entry point to each classroom) and/or plain liquid soap in dispensers, sinks and paper towels in dispensers.

Soap and water are preferred as it is the most effective method and least likely to cause harm if accidentally ingested.

ABHR can be used by children. It is most effective when hands are not visibly soiled. Regularly check expiry date on ABHR supply.

Safe placement of the ABHR to avoid consumption is important, especially for young children.

For any dirt, blood, body fluids (urine/feces), it is preferred that hands be washed with soap and water.

Tissues and lined, no-touch waste baskets (e.g. foot pedal-operated, hand sensor, open basket).

Support or modifications allowing students with special needs to regularly perform hand hygiene as independently as possible.

Anyone entering the school should be practicing hand hygiene.

Hand hygiene should be incorporated into the daily schedule at regular intervals during the day, above and beyond what is usually recommended (e.g. before eating food, after using the washroom). Possible options would be to have regular scheduled hand hygiene breaks based on a pre-specified schedule.

Students may need assistance or supervision.

SUSPECTED CASE OF COVID-19

Where an individual is suspected of having COVID-19 at school:​

  • Establish a protocol for identification and communication of suspected/confirmed cases to administration and relevant staff to determine contaminated areas and carry out cleaning and disinfection, including timing, return to use, methods, PPE, waste disposal
  • Northwestern Health Unit confirms cases, identifies and notifies contacts, and should be involved in communication to families
  • Identify areas that may require cleaning plus disinfection (items used by the individual and all surfaces within 2 meters of the ill person) versus cleaning alone (such as a hallway or room where the individual has passed through)
  • Use disposable cleaning equipment, such as disposable wipes, where possible
  • Remove all items that cannot be cleaned (paper, books, etc.) and store them in a sealed container for a minimum of 7 days

​PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE

It is suspected that environmental conditions and airflow influence the transmissibility of COVID-19.​

  • ​Regularly inspect and maintain air handling systems to ensure clean filters, if applicable
  • Reduce recirculation of air by increasing HVAC system settings as much as possible or by opening windows
  • Avoid the use of fans and portable air conditioners, when they must be used set device to lowest setting and adjust airflow up and away from occupants and surfaces. These devices also require regular maintenance and cleaning following manufacturer’s directions
  • Do not open windows and doors if this poses a safety or health risk to students and staff (e.g. trigger asthma, risk of anaphylaxis from a bee/wasp sting)
  • Ensure COVID measure do not introduce new occupational hazards to the work setting.​

 

See table attached for an updated list of environmental cleaning recommendations. Take note of suggested cleaning/disinfection measures and frequency.

Area​

Clean

​Disinf​ect

​Frequency

​Notes

Isolation Room

X

X

After each use

 

​Food prep
surfaces

​​X

​X

​before & after each use

Utility sinks​

​X

​X

​after each use

Blenders, food processors & can openers​

​X

​X

​after each use

​Change tables without paper

X

X

after each use

​Babies' plastic mouthed toys

​X

X

​after each use

​Change tables with paper liner, diaper pails

X

​X

daily and when soiled

​Discard paper after each change. Clean and sanitize if surface becomes soiled

Hand-washing sinks​

​X

​X

Twice daily and when soiled

​Toilets/sinks
cubicles

X

​X

Twice daily and when soiled

​Floors

​X

daily and when soiled

​Mop using detergent & water or a combined cleaner / disinfectant solution

​Countertops, sinks & fixtures

​X

​X

​Daily, after each use,and when soiled

​Student desks

​X

​X

​daily and when soiled

​Drinking fountains

​X

​X

​daily and when soiled

​Fountains should only be used for refilling water bottles.  Hands should be sanitized before filling water bottles.

​Doorknobs, light switches, railings, telephones, computer mice & keyboards

X

X

Twice daily and when soiled

High chair trays​

​X

​X

​Daily, after each use, and when soiled

​Stovetops & table tops & microwaves

​X

​X

Daily, between uses and when soiled

​Not for student use. Staff may use but must sanitize their hands between uses.

​Carpets

​X

​daily and when soiled

​Vacuum daily, clean as needed and shampoo every 3 months

​Shared plastic toddler toys

​X

​X

Daily, between uses, and when soiled

​Should be avoided

Activity centres & play mats​

​X

​X

after each use

​Avoid sharing objects.

​Water tables

 

​Shared puzzles & board books

​X

​X

​after each use

​Avoid sharing objects. Only clean before disinfecting if visibly soiled.

​Microwaves

 

Bedding, cots, mats, pillows

​X

​X

weekly and when soiled

​Launder. Reserve for use by one child.

​Garbage containers (inside)

​X

​X

weekly and when soiled

​Clean whenever garbage has leaked

​Gym mats

​X

​X

after each use

​Desk chairs

​X

​X

​daily and when soiled

​Sand table toys

 

Refrigerators

X

​monthly and when soiled

​Clean out the freezer every 6 months

​Ovens

​X

monthly and when soiled

​Clean

​Woodwork & cubbies

​X

​monthly and when soiled

​Damp wipe

​Garbage containers (outside)

​X

monthly and when soiled

​Clean whenever garbage has leaked

​Drapes, curtains and blinds

​X

monthly and when soiled

​Vacuum, launder or dry clean yearly

​Air vents

​X

​monthly and when soiled

​Vacuum

​Windows

​X

monthly and when soiled

​Wash inside & out at least twice a year

​Door ledges and shelves

​X

​monthly and when soiled

​Damp wipe

High touch outdoor surfaces made of metal or plastic

X

 

daily in warm weather and when soiled.

Clean with soap and water. Have children use hand sanitizer before and after recess. Depending on capacity, may need to designate certain day​s for each cohort to use outdoor structures.

​Additional Resources
​​​Contact the Northwestern Health Unit at talkpublichealth@nwhu.on.ca​​ or 1-866-468-2240 with any questions.​​