Using Science To Keep Schools Clean & Healthy

Using Science To Keep Schools Clean & Healthy

March 4 2020

Knowing you have done a good job is something most people appreciate, and the same goes for Richland School District’s custodial staff.

Communities across the country and around the world are working to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus COVID-19 through thorough cleaning and disinfecting of community spaces. While that means having proper practices and procedures in place, Mark Humann, the district’s custodial manager, says his staff is using technology and data to verify their efforts are limiting the spread of germs in schools.

“Our goal is to be as clean as a well-maintained medical facility,” Humann says. “I want everyone in our community to have peace of mind that we are consistently meeting that goal.”

Health officials report that standard cleaning and disinfection practice are sufficient to kill the COVID-19 virus on surfaces.

District custodians follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for cleaning, sanitation and disinfection

This includes daily disinfection of frequently touched surfaces in schools, such as light switches, door handles and bathroom fixtures. Custodians use the disinfectant Oxivir, which kills all germs within 1 minute of being applied. The surface is then wiped with a microfiber cloth to fully remove the disinfectant along with the germs.

Humann says his custodians are specifically trained on how to clean surfaces, and those methods have been carefully developed in recent years to ensure thorough cleaning. Additionally, supervisors ensure custodians are following procedures through unannounced visits to schools and spot checks of surfaces using a device called an ATP meter.

The device uses a swab to measure adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a chemical compound found in living cells. Supervisors swab a selection of disinfected surfaces in up to two schools each evening. Detection of little or no ATP on a surface indicates it was cleaned properly. If a surface comes back with a high reading, it tells staff what surfaces need to be revisited and if any additional custodian training is needed. View a sample testing report.

“We actually are scientific in our cleaning,” Humann says.

Humann adds that while the ATP meter is a great tool, it only works within a custodial program with effective procedures and well-trained staff. District custodians have worked hard to ensure that they are doing everything they can to prevent the spread of illness.

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