Last year’s flu season was the longest-lasting in a decade, with flu activity sticking around for 21 straight weeks. That’s why taking measures to prevent the virus from spreading through your school this year is more critical than ever.
Between 5% and 20% of people in the United States get the flu each fall and winter, according to the National Institutes of Health. When students and teachers are forced to stay home with the flu, those missed school days can have a huge effect on student outcomes – and the budget.
Last flu season, the virus began to ramp up in November and peaked in February, which means now is the time to make sure your school is ready.
Here are five steps SSC takes to keep school environments clean and flu-free:
1. Be prepared.
SSC has a special cleaning checklist just for cold and flu cold season, which puts an emphasis on cleaning high-touch areas like chairs, desks, door handles, soap dispensers, toilet seats, water fountains and light switches.
By using the Clorox Total 360 electrostatic spray system, which has been shown to decrease absenteeism rates significantly during the germiest seasons, SSC maintains a safe environment for students, staff and parents.
Prepare in advance, make a checklist and focus on what areas your students touch the most. That will help you get everything in place to keep the virus from spreading.
2. Encourage students and teachers to stay home when sick.
Some people may try to be a hero and come to school sick, but it’s important for anyone who gets the flu to stay home until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever to avoid spreading it to other students or teachers.
You could also encourage students, teachers and staff to get the flu shot by offering tips on when and where to get it or even offering vaccinations on campus for staff.
3. Healthy habits = less contamination.
Most experts believe the flu is primarily spread by droplets made when infected people cough and sneeze.
Teach students and staff to cover their mouths with a tissue or bent arm to prevent those droplets from spreading.
4. Emphasize the importance of hand-washing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, using a paper towel to dry hands and using that same towel to turn off the faucet.
Post informative signs in your bathrooms and consider incorporating hand-washing breaks into student and staff schedules.
5. Do more than just clean – especially those drinking fountains.
Sometimes a general cleaning spray won’t cut it. SSC often uses a disinfectant that kills 99.9% of germs, and also has policies to prevent cross-contamination.
Did you know? The germiest places in schools aren’t in the bathroom, like most people think, but water fountains, according to Dr. Harley Rotbart, professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of Colorado. It’s the perfect spot for germ spread since kids put their mouths on the stream of water or on the fountain itself.
Educate your kids to run the water a little first and then drink, or encourage students and teachers to bring their own water bottle – and not share.
We can help your school stay flu-free and germ-free. Reach out to learn more about our services and how you can keep your learning environment clean – and healthy – with SSC as your partner.
For more stories like this, subscribe to the SSC Monthly newsletter. Get news about the latest trends in education and support services, plus tips from our knowledgeable and experienced staff about how to make your facilities run smoothly — and save money.