School Cleanliness: Tips for Creating a Cleaning Plan That Suits Your School

According to the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, 22 million school days are lost each year due to the common cold, and up to 38 million school days due to the flu. And, what’s more, the state of education in the U.S. has a severe chronic absenteeism problem which affects learning in major ways.

When you combine unhealthy habits of rising late that continue into high schoolyears, along with the necessary dentist/doctor appointments that occur, missing school quickly becomes something that just “happens.”

We Can’t Afford Any More Issues in Education

The COVID-19 pandemic that hit the U.S. in 2020 turned bad habits into everyday occurrences as children stopped going to school and learned online from home.

This culminated in a change in attitude toward missing school. Although we’ve all been given the “all clear” to return to our lives, the habit of attending school on time has been broken.

Missing just two days a month of school can be a real problem for kids in several ways. Children who are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are less likely to read on grade level by the third grade.

For older students, being chronically absent is closely related to leaving school for various reasons―even more than low grades or test scores. When absences add up, these students are more likely to be suspended and drop out of high school.

Children need to take absences when they are ill, of course. And a mental health day is always great when needed. So it is important to keep children well so they can use their absent days when they truly require them.

Schools have always been a breeding ground for viruses, bacteria, dirt, dust, and infections. Poor hygiene leads to teacher, student, and staff absences, costing billions of dollars to compensate.

In addition, we know that students and teachers alike require clean, organized, hygienic environments for optimum learning. When they don’t get it, parents will take their children to a different school, and teachers will leave to find greener pastures.

We now know—because we are experiencing it—that when schools fall into disarray, we lose valuable educators and childcare workers. They have the choice to work elsewhere for better wages. And parents can choose to homeschool, learn online, or even go to a different school.  

Considering how much money schools lose annually due to a lack of hygiene, hiring a professional cleaning company or cleaning staff can contribute to saving money and enjoying cleaner (and successful) schools.

U.S. education is layered with issues—some that a teacher or even an administrator can’t control because a solution is beyond their reach. But cleanliness and facility management—that’s an easy win.

So check out these school cleanliness tips to help keep the entire building safe, clean, and conducive to learning.

Start With The Basics

The way to a clean school is one clean classroom at a time. Start by talking to the teachers and learn the tasks they can do to keep their classrooms and the teacher's lounge clean. Every little bit does help.

For example, the kids and teachers can set aside an hour each week to tidy up and declutter the classroom. Teachers and other staff can wash their coffee cups and glasses after use and wipe up any spillage or mess they make.

These basic rules will help you and everyone at the school maintain a good level of hygiene daily. A clean working environment will increase productivity, improve the students' and teachers' moods, instill pride, and reduce the number of absences.

Also, be sure to keep classrooms stocked with disinfectant wipes. Although they do not replace a professional cleaning that should be done nightly, they help mitigate viruses and germs.

Section Off The School

The most effective method to maintain cleanliness in school is to divide and conquer. Section off the building and make a cleaning plan for each section or by room type.

For example, you'll need one plan for all the hallways, entryways, and areas with high foot traffic. Bathrooms, classrooms, and teachers' lounges will need a thorough daily cleaning plan, while activity rooms that kids use only a few times a week will need deep cleaning after each use.

This method of planning allows you to calculate costs, hire staff, and streamline the process. For instance, if you see some sections needing more work, you can request that your facilities management company add more tasks to their regular work. Or you can choose to hire more staff and get more supplies.

Once you have this basic knowledge, you’re also able to work closely with a mature facilities management organization. You’ll be able to have a well-informed conversation with an education cleaning advisor to develop your customized plan — together.

Don't Skip Regular Disinfection

Disinfection of all surfaces, no matter how big or small, is crucial for the health and safety of students and employees. During cold and flu season, schools are breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses, and disinfection can help reduce the number of sick people and absences.

In addition, COVID-19 is not altogether gone. Although cases have dropped and we learned much from it, that virus remains. Immunocompromised folks (teachers and kids alike) must stay vigilant.

Teachers should do regular disinfection of all surfaces in their classroom, especially doorknobs, desks, chairs, sponges, activity tools and toys, sinks, computer screens, keyboards, mice, and light switches. Cleaning staff will also be able to assist here. Because, let’s face it, we all want to go home at the end of the day, not do another hour of deep cleaning.

Cleaning staff should disinfect bathrooms, kitchens, and common areas several times a day.  

Your cleaning crew and facility management team can safely handle and store supplies. Also, if your school would prefer eco-friendly cleansers, your team will be able to provide that, too.

Place Recycle and Trash Bins All Around Your Educational Facility

Kids, staff, and visitors are more likely to responsibly remove trash and recyclables if receptacles are readily available. Ensure you put recycling bins all around the school premises, both inside and outside.

There should be larger trash cans in hallways, toilets, gyms, school entrances and exits, and the schoolyard. Always ensure smaller cans are in all classrooms, designated teacher areas, and other offices.

When you put garbage cans everywhere, they'll be hard to ignore, and there will be fewer candy wrappers, chewing gum, and crumpled paper on the floor. (Although, let’s be honest, you shouldn’t see gum or candy in your school at all).

Remember to keep a type of map where all bins are located and have them emptied correctly at the end of the day. Some bins will also have to be emptied more than once a day. You’ll monitor the bins to make sure you are keeping them clean and maintained.

Once you begin working with a mature facility management company, you’ll have a partner to help you with bin waste and recycling—and much more! Not all facilities are the same, so ensure your commercial cleaning crew has customized their approach to your vision and facility layout.

Hire A Mature Facility Management Company

Although the U.S. childcare market size was valued at $60B as of 2022, the state of education in the U.S. is in crisis. With a teacher shortage and the ability of families to choose where and how their children learn, the market, especially in the private sector, is only poised to grow.

However, traditionally in the janitorial sector, turnover is high. Schools and educational institutions have often faced high turnover of their janitorial staff, and hiring and training new people is more expensive than retaining them.

There is a way to solve this problem. The most efficient and cost-effective solution for schools is hiring a modern, mature facility management company.

You can hire a team for the entire school year, on a monthly or weekly basis, and even for special school events. You'll work with trained facility management professionals with years of experience and expertise. In addition, the cleaners are trained business owners with continual oversight from OpenWorks.

OpenWorks specializes in school cleaning services with the goal of creating a healthier, safer, and better place for learning. Our dedicated team of cleaning professionals will maintain and improve the educational facilities consistently.

Create A Cleaning Schedule For The Staff

Your facilities management provider will have a schedule for each section of the school, along with the time allotted for cleaning, the supplies that are required and who is working on it. When everyone knows what they should be doing and when it's easier to keep the rooms and surfaces clean.

If you hire a professional cleaning company, no one on your staff will have to worry about making a schedule with the required details. Your team will come prepared with a plan you can agree upon together.

Raise Awareness With Students And Staff

No matter how efficient and trained your clearing staff is, you must raise awareness with the people working and studying in the building. Everyone should take care of the place by doing small things that mean a lot.

Some examples are throwing trash in the garbage instead of the floor, flushing the toilet after use, keeping the chairs and desks clean, and cleaning up after themselves. After all, teaching these items are important items for children to learn.

The school can organize workshops where teachers and cleaners will talk about the importance of hygiene, clean classrooms, washing hands often, and taking care of the school's cleanliness as a team.

You can also organize recycling and cleaning events, where school staff, teachers, kids, and parents work together on beautifying the space.

This Is Your Best Guide To Impeccable School Cleanliness

Wonder how other FM professionals in the education space handle the intensity of the day to day? Check out our podcast with Akyean Matthews, IFMA member and facility at a large private school

Keeping the school clean, tidy, and safe for everyone's health results from the teamwork between kids, teachers, and day-to-day cleaners.

These tips will help you establish a solid plan to maintain a high level of school cleanliness and teach everyone to take better care of the facility.

Wondering if you should outsource your cleaning services? We say yes! Reach out to us to see how we can help you make the grade! 

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