An Open Letter to Educators and School Administrators was published for client Kaivac
Because you are involved with the health of children, Kaivac would like to bring to your attention a study that was published in March 2019 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. While the research was conducted in a hospital setting, much of what was learned applies to the education sector.
The goal was to see if improved cleaning would help reduce nosocomial (healthcare-acquired) infections. Eleven acute care hospitals in Australia having more than 200 inpatient beds were involved in the study, which was conducted for up to 50 weeks in some locations.
Instead of testing to see if just one cleaning solution, product, or method could produce better outcomes for patients, the test involved what was called a “cleaning bundle.” The bundle included the following:
- Optimizing cleaning solution use
- Improving cleaning techniques
- Enhancing staff training
- Scientific auditing of cleaning
- Improved communication between staff and cleaning professionals
According to the researchers, these were the results:
“Hospitals in the study improved their cleaning practices from 55 percent to 76 percent in bathroom areas and from 64 percent to 86 percent in bedroom areas. This resulted in a 37 percent reduction in the major healthcare-associated infection, vancomycin-resistance enterococci (VRE), and a 5.8 percent decrease overall in three [related] types of infections.”
Applying this to Schools
In many ways, this study is similar to a bundled cleaning study conducted at the Limestone School District, located in Ontario, Canada. The 2019 study involved five schools, three different locations in each school, and 40 different school surfaces. The goal was to determine if more effective cleaning could reduce student absenteeism using a bundled cleaning approach.
According to the researchers, schools are home to many harmful pathogens that can cause viral respiratory illnesses, coughs, colds, and influenza. These are responsible for most of the absenteeism in the countries K-12 schools.
In this study, the cleaning bundle involved three cleaning technologies:
- Microfiber cleaning cloths
- A Kaivac No-Touch Cleaning System
- Electrostatic disinfection systems (which spray an electrically charged mist over surfaces to kill pathogens)
Among the findings were the following:
- The number of live bacteria on the test surfaces decreased by 93 percent, indicating cleaning effectiveness improved significantly
- Instead of increasing cleaning times, the cleaning bundle reduced cleaning times
- Custodians reported the cleaning bundle proved more effective at removing soils; many traditional cleaning methods such as floor moping tend to spread soils and pathogens.
As to reducing student absenteeism, comparing the 2017/18 school year with the 2018/19 school year, during which the three bundled cleaning technologies were used, there was a 15 percent reduction in overall school absenteeism.
It appears taking a bundled approach to cleaning may have merits, helping to reduce absenteeism, and with that, the possibility of improving student performance. This appears to be something Canadian school administrators should investigate.
Canadian Sales Manager for Kaivac, manufacturers of professional cleaning equipment
More on school cleaning can be found here.