Hull schools have implemented a heavy cleaning and disinfection routine since the beginning of the school year. A recent update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on sanitation measures should lead to a reevaluation of current practices in the town’s school system.
The CDC now says on their website that “when no people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 are known to have been in a space, cleaning once a day is usually enough to sufficiently remove virus that may be on surfaces and help maintain a healthy facility.”
The health agency goes on to explain the rationale for its advisory: “In most situations, the risk of infection from touching a surface is low. The most reliable way to prevent infection from surfaces is to regularly wash hands or use hand sanitizer.”
Currently, Hull’s standards go far beyond the CDC guidelines. Desks and chairs are cleaned before and after classes, with Clorox wipes or a spray bottle of sanitizer/disinfectant. Students sanitize their hands regularly, with sanitizers located at the school entrance and outside classrooms.
According to the new guidelines, high-touch surfaces should be cleaned at least once a day, but not necessarily with disinfectant.
“In most situations, regular cleaning of surfaces with soap and detergent – not necessarily disinfecting those surfaces – is enough to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky during a White House briefing.
When there is a high transmission of the coronavirus in the area, when there are not many people wearing masks, or when there is poor hand hygiene, the CDC recommends cleaning more often or disinfecting.
Although it has been known for some time that the coronavirus does not spread by touch, schools and businesses around the world have been cleaning and sanitizing heavily regardless. With that level of hygiene not completely necessary, unless there has been a confirmed case, a reconsideration of safety protocols may be in order.
Cleaning as heavily as has been done takes up valuable class time. Parents report that the Clorox left over on desks and chairs has been bleaching students’ clothing. Too much exposure to chemicals in disinfectants leaves behind damaged, dry, and irritable skin.
After April break, all students will be back to school every day, except for those in Pirate Academy. This is not the time to completely disregard safety measures, especially because those measures are the reason some feel safe enough to come into school.
However, maybe it is time to reevaluate them. Clean at the beginning of the class period or at the end, not both. Use soap and water, not Clorox.
At the beginning of the school year, the schools vowed to do their best to follow CDC guidelines. Now that those guidelines have changed, Hull’s practices should, too.
Victoria Dolan is school correspondent for The Hull Times.