As pupils across the UK continue to return to in-person learning after 20 months of significant disruption, consistently ensuring the safety and wellbeing of every individual within a school environment has never been more important.
Here Zac Hemming, Managing Director of ICE Cleaning, explores how cleaning routines have evolved and the dedicated virus and bacteria sanitisation programmes that education providers should be implementing to provide teachers and students with the highest standards of protection and the confidence to return to the classroom.
The collaborative nature of school environments, combined with the sheer number of pupils and staff that occupy them, has provided viruses and bacteria with the opportunity to spread, particularly throughout the winter, where the common cold and flu can be easily transferred throughout high trafficked areas including classrooms, corridors and toilets.
However, the severity of COVID-19 and its high-risk ability to be transferred between individuals in close proximity via airborne or surface contact has caused the education sector to completely re-evaluate its approach to cleanliness and hygiene, with sanitisation and prevention now playing a central role in daily, weekly and monthly cleaning routines.
As the government continues to prioritise in person education for all pupils, education providers are having to undertake a proactive approach to prevention, whilst simultaneously ensuring minimal disruption to pupils’ education and overall learning experience.
The government’s Schools COVID-19 operational guidance, which has been created in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE), shares information on targeted interventions that can be applied to reduce risk.
This is encapsulated throughout four control measures, with ensuring good hygiene for everyone and maintaining appropriate cleaning regimes the two leading considerations that education providers must address. This also includes ensuring occupied spaces are well ventilated and following public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Taking a proactive approach to protection
By focusing on hygiene behaviour and incorporating additional preventative measures into established cleaning routines, professionals can successfully break the chain of infection. This includes additional treatments, such as monthly decontamination plans, which ensure the consistent sanitisation of high touch surfaces, including door handles and shared facilities, such as computers and desks, which are used by multiple individuals every day.
The rapid advancement in cleaning technologies is also supporting education providers in successfully fulfilling these aims, with the latest chemicals and dispensing systems setting the standard for a new generation of commercial cleaning that is lightyears apart from the cleaning regimes previously delivered and expected.
Whilst some may utilise a traditional fogging machine to apply the relevant chemicals to help mitigate against the spread of bacteria and viruses on surfaces and key touchpoints, the latest progressions in electrostatic technology have created a dispensing system that, when combined with best in class chemicals, achieves a longer dwell time on surfaces.
This enables the chemicals to effectively ‘wrap’ around surfaces to guarantee protection against viruses for up to 28 days, eliminating the opportunity for the cleaning chemicals to drip off high frequency touchpoints, which may potentially occur with other methods of application.
The electrostatic technology features positively charged electrostatic particles, which attach themselves to negatively charged particles found on solid surfaces, whilst simultaneously counteracting any negatively charged particles within the atmosphere. This effectively destroys 99.9% of traces of coronavirus and other bacteria and viruses on surfaces within a school environment.
By applying these sanitisation plans on a monthly basis, in addition to established daily and weekly cleaning routines, schools can fulfil their duty of care, whilst demonstrating to teachers, pupils and their parents the measures that are being taken to ensure their safety and wellbeing whilst they are at school.
ICE Cleaning’s unique ICE SHIELD® service utilises electrostatic technology to effectively destroy 99.9% of traces of coronavirus and other bacteria and viruses, including norovirus and influenza.
By incorporating this protection into monthly cleaning routines, with a 28-day decontamination certificate supplied after each procedure to demonstrate due diligence, schools can ensure every area of their facilities are adequately protected, from classrooms to corridors, gyms to toilets.
Prevention in practice
The London Exam Centre has recently partnered with ICE Cleaning to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its staff and students, by successfully eliminating the spread of viruses and bacteria.
Forming part of Wimbledon School of English, The London Exam Centre offers a wide range of examination options, including authorised Cambridge assessments, with both computer-based and paper-based testing available to students throughout the year.
As an educational institution that processes around 9,000 candidates per year, it recognised the importance of protecting the health and wellbeing of its staff and students by creating a safe and hygienic learning environment.
In order to reduce the threat of viruses and bacteria spreading, The London Exam Centre appointed ICE Cleaning to deliver ICE SHIELD® each month to eradicates all traces of viruses throughout the school.
Zac Hemming, Managing Director of ICE Cleaning, commented: “Educational institutions, such as The London Exam Centre, have remained open for a large part of the pandemic. As a result, they have had to implement strict health and safety measures to ensure both students and staff are sufficiently protected at all times.
“To create the safest possible environment, our team of highly skilled experts complete a thorough deep clean of the centre once a month, which includes our ICE SHIELD® treatment. The treatment forms a protective barrier that lasts up to 28 days, making it the most effective form of protection for a school environment, whilst ensuring minimal disruption to students and staff.”
Martin Cowdrey, Maintenance Support at Wimbledon School of English, commented: “After researching suitable cleaning companies to use at Wimbledon School of English and The London Exam Centre, we selected ICE Cleaning for its wide range of cleaning services. The quality of the services that ICE Cleaning provide are high and have met the needs of our business in these different times.”
Zac continued: “It is vital that the services we provide not only protect students and staff, but also offer reassurance that exams and assessments can go ahead as planned. By creating a clean and hygienic environment, students and teachers can focus on the task at hand, whether that’s an exam they are sitting or classes they are attending.”
ICE Cleaning is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with an emergency response team able to arrive on-site within an hour. The company’s expert technicians are trained to the highest standards, whilst adhering to all the relevant health and safety regulations. For more information, visit icecleaning.co.uk or call 02039 932940.