Conjunctivitis, commonly called pink eye, is a viral or bacterial infection that's easily spread by touch. In schools, pink eye can quickly become an epidemic, since kids are extremely casual about touching their faces, their belongings, and each other. It's even possible for one child to infect multiple students before symptoms ever show up.
Developing good handwashing habits is the best way to stop pink eye in its tracks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To combat both the viral and bacterial versions of the infection, schools should follow the CDC's guidelines, which call for frequent and thorough handwashing. Arming your custodial team with knowledge also helps keep germs at bay. Advise your crew to wash their hands frequently with soap and water, employing effective handwashing techniques, especially when an infection is reported.
Cleaning Doors, Chairs, and Other Touch Points
There are certain spots in every school that multiple students touch each day that may be overlooked in the cleaning process. This, of course, makes them a perfect transmission point for conjunctivitis. Some of these spots include doors, chairs, stairway railings, pencil sharpeners, and shared toys in the younger grades. Make sure your custodial team performs detailed cleaning work on all of these areas, as it is one of the best ways to keep pink eye at bay.
For the most effective cleaning of these spots, use a spray bottle and an eight-fold cloth. Fold it in half twice to make a smaller square. Spray the cloth to dampen it, then use one surface of the folded cloth to wipe it down. Then turn the cloth over, dampen it again and wipe down the next surface with a clean section. With this technique, you'll have eight untouched cleaning cloth surfaces to use, which will cut down on the potential for bacterial cross-contamination considerably.
You can clean toys and other small items frequently touched by the younger students in a dishwasher or by soaking them in a solution of one cup of white vinegar to one gallon of water. Soak the toys for half an hour, then rinse and allow them to air dry.
No matter how diligent teachers and their students are about washing their hands during the school day, their desks can become a breeding ground for germs. Address this problem by doing a thorough cleaning of the desks at the end of each school day. Traditional cleaning methods that involve using rags, a bucket of water, and a cleaning solution aren't effective, as they often just spread the germ-filled liquid around with dirty cloths. A better way to clean a desk is to use a professional-grade squeegee. Apply a cleaning solution to the desk surface, and then squeegee the desktop to remove the liquid and leave it virtually germ-free.
For more information and a demonstration of how to clean desktops in schools, click here.