How do we bring students back to the essentials of education as safely as possible?
As the COVID-19 crisis escalated, most educational institutions shifted to online learning. But looking ahead to the 2020-2021 academic year, educational institutions are looking at options for reopening and bringing students back to classrooms and campuses. Strategies to build and maintain healthy operations for students, faculty, staff, and parents will have to be implemented in order for this goal to be accomplished safely.
Key lessons from other sectors that either remained operational during the height of the national shut down or have since reopened can be useful. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis KBS has partnered with industry-leading companies to respond to their needs and keep their operations running safely. We are applying the same expertise to school systems and universities as they evolve their education model moving ahead. KBS is working as a resource to plan and implement the strategies, procedures, and infrastructure educational institutions will need to navigate these challenging times.
Essentials for educational institution moving ahead will be:
- Creating and executing strategies for touch point cleaning
- Verifying cleaning and disinfecting using advanced technologies
- Planning when cleaning will take place to maximize visibility and effectiveness
- Communicating cleaning protocols to students, faculty, staff, and parents
- Planning for deep cleaning and COVID-19 responses in the future
Revamping Cleaning Protocols
Today, protocols for cleaning schools and universities need to address the frequency and scope of cleaning and disinfecting as well as how these protocols are actually carried out. For example, EPA registered cleaning chemicals that are rated to kill and neutralize a wide range of bacteria and viruses are essential. KBS cleaning teams are properly trained to execute cleaning protocols correctly, and also on how to protect themselves while performing those tasks.
For educational institutions, scheduling cleaning is an important factor. Unlike past protocols, some cleaning should be performed during operating hours. This can help assure students and faculty that areas are being cleaned on a regular basis while helping reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses as people continually flow in and out of classrooms and buildings. However, cleaning protocols must also take into consideration class and activity schedules so that cleaning does not unduly disrupt education.
While chemicals, training, and proper techniques are effective, verification offers further assurance of the true impact of cleaning and disinfecting on surfaces. KBS uses advanced technology to measure the viral and bacterial load on surfaces. Teams evaluate the results and change procedures if necessary. Studies have shown that the use of these measurements can be useful for evaluating the effectiveness of hygiene intervention programs aimed at preventing viral spread. Testing surfaces before and after cleaning can help verify the efficacy of the cleaning and disinfection and inform teams of any required adjustments to protocols and frequency.
Working hand-in-hand with keeping cleaning visible, educational operators need to inform students, faculty, staff, and parents about the strategies they are deploying. Signage, print outs, and digital communication detailing the disinfectants being used and the training and safety measures taken to protect students are all important to creating a welcoming, successful educational environment. KBS is working with its education clients to inform and create these communications so that students, faculty, staff, and parents are not just aware that cleaning is taking place; they are knowledgeable of all actions in place to ensure the healthy operations of their school.
Response to Crisis
Should a COVID-19 outbreak occur on-site, educational facilities need to be prepared to respond quickly and effectively. Early in the crisis, KBS developed an execution plan to respond to outbreaks with deep cleaning and disinfecting services. For these services, specially trained and equipped teams perform a deep cleaning and disinfection on all horizontal and vertical surfaces. The services include HEPA vacuuming all carpeted areas, machine cleaning all floor surfaces with EPA registered disinfectant cleaning solutions, hygiene barrier cleaning, the proper application of virucides, and disinfecting furniture and fixtures. Workers for this service are equipped with head to toe level 4 PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). KBS has performed over 120,000 COVID-19 responses since the crisis began and deployed teams nationwide.
Infrastructures for Health
For schools and universities, cleaning and disinfecting are part of an entire infrastructure and strategy. The more these strategies are integrated, the more effective they can be. For example, KBS works with clients to supply and install hygiene barriers. These barriers can be deployed to frequent interaction areas, such as front desks, or places where students, faculty, and staff interact, such as gyms or dining areas. Partnering with education clients, KBS team members identify high touch areas and identify student and faculty pathways and habits to ultimately make recommendations about where these barriers should be installed and how they are to be cleaned. Working with education operators, our experts test surfaces in high traffic student areas and in faculty break rooms to make further recommendations around hygiene barriers and enhanced touch point cleaning.
KBS is also using its knowledge from working in other industries to plan health checkpoints for students moving in and out of buildings. The checkpoints use hygiene barriers, hand sanitizing stations, and temperature checks to minimize the risk of infection while still allowing for the safe interaction of students, faculty, and staff. These plans keep pathways one way and account for the volume of students moving through a space at a given time.
Maintaining healthy operations will be a major factor for schools, universities, and other educational venues moving ahead. Cleaning and disinfecting scope and frequency will need to be enhanced, advanced technologies to verify that cleaning efficacy should be leveraged, and entire infrastructures will be implemented to allow for safe interaction between students, faculty, staff and parents. By partnering with KBS, schools and universities can achieve their goals efficiently and effectively, while maintaining healthy operations as the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve.
For additional information, please contact us.