Recess is important for growing children. It strengthens bodies and minds, develops social and emotional skills, and facilitates better performance at school.
This is great news for kids and teachers, but extra work for your janitorial staff. For a beleaguered group already stretched thin, extra traffic as kids exit and enter the school adds even more to their workload. The prospect gets worse during the rainy season, when damp floors present slip-and-fall dangers and more. Knowing how to keep your school clean and make sure your floors stay dry will keep students and staff healthy and safe.
Check Your Shoes
Footwear protects your feet, but it also picks up a variety of nasty toxins, dirt, and allergens. A Good Housekeeping article cites studies on the subject, which note that shoes can track in lawn chemicals and pesticides, along with coal tar, which could be a carcinogen. It doesn't stop there. Shoes transfer traces of fecal matter and other bacteria.
A study reported on by ABC News suggests that bacteria live longer on shoes than they do in other places, and that they can cause infections in the stomach, eyes, and lungs. In a test, the researchers found that bacteria transferred from shoes to tile floors 90 percent of the time — and the results on carpeting were even worse. This means that, even after the water dries, impurities remain on the floor — the same floor where children often play and work. And with 20 to 30 little ones to look after, one could hardly fault a teacher for not policing this, or even for not catching visible stains.
It's Not "Just a Little Water"
Playing in the rain may be a rite of childhood, but tracking that rain into a school can cause big problems. Slips and falls can lead to substantial injuries. They can also open up your school to lawsuits. While suing a government agency like a school is notoriously hard, a quick Google search reveals a cadre of lawyers willing to try. It doesn't take much water to create a slip-and-fall hazard. While carpeted floor doesn't present that danger, chronic wetness can lead to mold growth.
Rain, Rain, Go Away
When it comes to cleaning the floors themselves, standard mopping will only spread dirt and bacteria around. Have your staff employ an AutoVac system that cleans the floors thoroughly while leaving a dry finish.
Although removing shoes before stepping indoors would be the best course of action, it's just not practical in a school setting. Instead, set down course-textured mats outside entrances — and soft, absorbent mats inside — to trap as much water and debris as possible. Instruct janitorial staff to take extra care during the rainy season. If they know how to keep your school clean and dry, the students and faculty will be safe, and you can have peace of mind.
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Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.