Lately, we have been hearing people use the term "hygienically clean." However, although most of us have a pretty good idea as to what the terminology means, the Rockwood School District, Saint Louis, MO, has firsthand experience with successfully upholding the concept.
Last year, the district noticed something unusual: the number of students contracting flu declined, and rather dramatically. In previous years, as many as 15 percent of the student body came down with the flu—last year, only about 5 percent contracted the virus.
Why the dramatic reduction?
"Although we cannot pinpoint one single reason," says Doug Coleman, Coordinator of Custodial Services for the district, "it is no coincidence that this occurred when we transferred from conventional cleaning methods to the Kaivac No-Touch Cleaning® system."
For the past five years, the district, which has 22,000 students and 3.5 million square feet of floor space, has been purchasing no-touch cleaning systems manufactured by Kaivac, the originator and still the leading manufacturer of the system.
"One of the first things we noticed was that it cut down our cleaning time fairly dramatically," says Coleman. "Restroom fixtures that took as long as 6 minutes to clean took only about a minute with the Kaivac."
Because of the significant reduction in cleaning time, the district continued to purchase additional Kaivac machines and now has one in each of its 32 facilities. Coleman says that they also selected some no-touch systems made by other manufacturers that were supposed to be "equivalent" to the Kaivac machine; however, these off-brands "simply did not perform as well as the Kaivac," according to Coleman.
He adds that when the district selects new cleaning equipment, the machines must pass three tests. The new equipment must:
- Perform well
- Improve the appearance of the surfaces and areas cleaned
- Prove to be healthier for our children.
"The Kaivac system passes all three tests," Coleman says, "and does so in flying colors."
Learning the ABCs of ATP
Because of the reduction in student body flu cases, Coleman wanted to take hygienic cleaning a step further and look for a system that could actually prove a surface is—or is not—hygienically clean. Again, he turned to Kaivac and was introduced to their new ATP rapid monitoring system.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is found in all living cells, including germs, bacteria, and microorganisms. When found on a surface, such as a restroom fixture, door handle, cafeteria table, floor, or other surface, ATP levels serve as a "red flag" that harmful, health-risking contaminants may be present.
"We selected a handheld ATP system to test food service work areas as well as the tables in the cafeterias," says Coleman. "We get the results in less than 15 seconds and it does exactly what we hoped it would do. It provides the proof we need to see if a surface is hygienically clean and [tells us] where we may need more cleaning effort."
The ATP system has proven so successful that all of the district's custodial supervisors will soon have one. Even more, now the district's food service department is requesting the units as well.
"Some school districts get stuck when it comes to cleaning," Coleman says. "They use the same cleaning products they have used for years. It's like buying a 1958 black-and-white TV in 2008. I learned years ago you have to seek out new technology and have found some of the healthiest and most effective products coming from one company: Kaivac."