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Green Cleaning Resources for Public Schools

by | Apr 7, 2017 | School Cleaning Tips

Green cleaning is a fundamental cornerstone of Minnesota’s updated School Environmental Health Plan.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health;

A School Environmental Health Plan serves many purposes. A healthy school environment will reduce illness, absenteeism, and nurse office visits. Studies have linked a healthy environment to greater comfort, which may lead to higher academic performance.

-School Environmental Health Plan

Of the seven major sections listed in the departments 22 point advisory, six can be addressed cost-effectively by outsourcing to an experienced green cleaning services provider.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning and maintenance can be generically broken down into service areas:

  • Administrative Facilities – Can typically be maintained like any other office, with particular attention paid to high-contact surfaces before and through the cold and flu season.
  • Classrooms – Should be serviced daily, especially the floors/carpeting, walkway mats, and high-touch surfaces.
  • Pupil Restrooms – Should typically be sanitized from top to bottom daily, but particular attention should be paid to ensure supplies are sufficient, as well as monitored between periods to check for potential emergency cleanups.
  • Cafeteria – Should be cleaned in accordance with any other food service facility, with particular attention paid to food prep areas.
  • Nurses Office – For maximum efficiency, nurse’s offices should be cleaned in accordance with best office cleaning practices, with special services allotted for potential blood-borne pathogen exposure, or other infectious disease.

Mold and Moisture

Mold and moisture, especially in the classroom or ventilation system, can lead to respiratory issues, especially after long-term exposure.

Entry mats, carpets, particularly under backpack and coat hangers, as well as near classroom sinks, are prone to moisture and mold buildup and should be cleaned daily, especially during the wetter and colder months of the year.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health;

If mold can be seen or smelled, it is a concern. However, every school contains some mold. So do our homes, offices and the outdoor air.

-Investigating and Remediating Mold in Minnesota Public Schools

Depending on the type, area, and quantity of mold, steps ranging from non-porous surface cleanup to full school evacuation may be called for.

Professional cleaning services reps are trained to identify common areas where mold may have developed from excessive, long-term moisture buildup and assist with plan development to efficiently resolve the issue, as well as institute maintenance plans to prevent its recurrence.

Chemicals and Contaminants

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;

The chemicals found in some cleaning products can cause health problems, including headaches and eye, nose and throat irritation. andnbsp;If products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), adverse health effects can include asthma, upper respiratory irritation, fatigue, nasal congestion, nausea, and dizziness. andnbsp;Green cleaning products and practices may avoid these health effects…[sic]

-Cleaning Effectively for a Healthy School Environment

Green cleaning products are non-toxic to humans, animals, and the environment but, when combined with the appropriate equipment, provide a comparable, if not higher, level of sanitation than their toxic counterparts.

Ventilation and Filtration

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;

Good indoor air quality can help ensure a healthier and higher performance learning environment for students and school staff, and proper maintenance of ventilation and filtration equipment plays a big role in the quality of the indoor air.

State School Environmental Health Guidelines

While not directly responsible for the HVAC system in schools; an experienced provider can support multiple, common facilities maintenance needs, including HVAC vent filtration monitoring, purchasing, and replacement, freeing up over-tasked staff for more relevant projects.

Pests and Pesticides

Spiders, rodents, and insects are a constant issue for children’s safety and food stores.

Where, like HVAC systems, cleaning services cannot provide pest control, they can advise on locations where accumulations of pest signs have been noted, as well as provide necessary carpet cleaning services to eliminate potentially hazardous chemical exposure to faculty and children when the pesticides are tracked into the classrooms on children’s feet.

Additionally, high-performance entrance mats placed on the inside and outside of the classroom door will extend maximum protection, while reducing carpet and floor cleaning and maintenance costs.

Sustainability

The purpose of sustainability is to improve on facility and occupant health and reduce energy and resource usage while eliminating the use of toxic chemicals that damage the environment, and are hazardous to humans.

  • Green cleaning products are non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
  • Microfiber is inexpensive, requires less water than comparable cloth or cotton based equipment, and functions as an antimicrobial disinfectant with just warm water.
  • Probiotic cleaners attack microbial biofilm, as well as disrupt the available food source for infectious bacteria without toxic chemicals.
  • High-efficiency floor scrubbers and dirt extractors use biodegradable detergents that do not leave a toxic residue, use less water than convention floor and carpet cleaning methods; reducing the amount of time required for a surface to dry, as well as the potential for mildew.
  • HEPA filtered backpack vacuums reduce operator workload, significantly reducing cleaning timeandnbsp;while ensuring maximum soil removal without reintroducing dirt, allergen, and bacterial particles back into the air.

Resources

 

Takeaway

While the need to migrate to green cleaning practices in schools has been well established, e-Rate funding often remains a lengthy challenge.

While consulting services do exist for e-Rate fund procurement, few, if any, possess the necessary experience to assist with the formulation of an actual plan to address a particular school or district’s needs, especially regarding chemical purchasing and equipment training.

An experienced green cleaning provider can assist your school with everything from assessment and consulting services, cleaning, staffing, purchasing, and facilities management; all at a lower cost point than facilitating an equivalent service, in-house. 

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