As schools reopen, now is the time to think about how best to keep our school buildings and classrooms clean and sanitized. Below are some tips school administrators, teachers, and building maintenance staffs can follow to maintain a safe environment and reduce the risk of exposure for their students.
1. Use an EPA-approved surface disinfectant.
The EPA regulates surface disinfectants to ensure they are effective and safe for use by consumers. In today’s environment it’s important to use a disinfectant that is effective against coronavirus. Refer to EPA’s List N for EPA-approved disinfectant products that are appropriate for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The products on the list, which includes all PURELL® Surface Disinfectants and PURELL® Surface Disinfecting Wipes, have been shown to be effective against viruses that are harder to kill than SARS-CoV-2.*
2. Choose a surface disinfectant that is worry free around children.
Student safety is of utmost importance in a school setting. All EPA-registered disinfectants have a “Keep Out of Reach of Children” warning label, but not all disinfectants have precautionary statements like “Warning” or “Caution.” For instance, PURELL® Surface Disinfectants do not contain harsh chemicals and have the EPA’s lowest allowable toxicity rating. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, “When possible, only products labeled as safe for humans and the environment (e.g., Safer or Designed for the Environment (DfE) certified), containing active ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide, ethanol [alcohol], citric acid, should be selected from this list, because they are less toxic, are not strong respiratory irritants or asthma triggers, and have no known carcinogenic, reproductive, or developmental effects.” 1 Limit the use of disinfectants that contain precautionary statements when students are present.
3. Ensure surface disinfectants remain visibly wet for the contact time specified on the product label to ensure that they are effective.
Disinfectants are only effective if they are used as indicated on the label. Refer to the product label to familiarize yourself with the recommended contact time and use instructions. Reapply the product if necessary. Keep in mind that not all products have the same contact time. PURELL® Surface Disinfecting Spray kills many organisms in 30 seconds and human coronavirus in 60 seconds.*
4. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently.
The CDC guidelines for maintaining healthy environments in schools recommends at least daily cleaning and sanitization of high-touch surfaces.2 Examples of surfaces include:
- doorknobs/push bars
- light switches
- sink handles
- computer keyboards
- locker handles
- pencil sharpeners
- drinking fountains
- playground equipment
Before using a disinfectant on screens or electronics, check with the manufacturer to make sure it is compatible with the device surface to prevent damage. PURELL® Surface Disinfectants are safe to use on electronic touch screens, including cell phones and tablets.
5. Re-sanitize surfaces regularly.
High-touch surfaces should be re-sanitized between uses as much as possible, especially after periods of increased activity. The use of shared equipment is discouraged, however when necessary, items should be sanitized between uses. Make sure you’re using the right disinfectants on the right surfaces – for instance, many disinfectants are not safe to use on soft surfaces, according to their label.
These tips can be part of your school’s broader strategy to create a safer, cleaner environment this school year. We are also providing protocols, training materials, and educational content to support schools in maximizing the impact of the products they have available, including when and how these products should be used, and where to place wall-mounted dispensers, floor stands, and tabletop bottles – so sanitizing and washing fit into the normal flow of the school day. For additional materials, visit our K-12 Well-Being Center.