Hygiene in the classroom – the importance of disinfection

According to recent studies, clean classrooms and corridors in schools and colleges can have a huge impact on a student's attendance, mental wellbeing and overall performance at school. This means that hygiene in educational settings is a key priority for both the health of students across the UK and their education.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased people’s awareness of the importance of cleanliness in schools, with the 2022 autumn/winter term also likely to be a key test for school hygiene according to reports.  With an expected pressure on the NHS necessitating clear and decisive action on the part of school leaders in order to prevent schools from becoming the source of an infection that is then spread to the wider community.

It is therefore crucial for schools and higher education institutions to keep cleaning and disinfection protocols  front of mind in order to help them maintain a welcoming, productive and safe environment.

A classroom environment with students and teacher

Creating an environment that is conducive to learning

Studies have also shown that the level of cleanliness in a particular environment has a direct impact on students’ ability to learn. A dirty, neglected environment can also increase stress levels and therefore impact negatively on concentration and retention of information.

Similar research reveals that 83% of teachers believe that there is a noticeable change in pupils’ behaviour when the classroom is clean. Moreover, 90% of teachers claim they feel a tangible difference in their own mental health when their workplace is clean. The need to maintain a hygienic environment in the classroom and surrounding area therefore encourages both productive teaching and learning.

The learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic

During the height of the pandemic, the reopening of schools was prioritised in the UK to minimise the academic and developmental disruptions to children. However, as the BMJ (British Medical Journal) argues; for many schools, their reopening was not accompanied by a comprehensive training package of hygiene and disinfection measures to properly protect children.

Whilst some schools and colleges have experienced outbreaks of norovirus, for example, which forced closures prior to COVID-19, the pandemic shone a spotlight on the current cleaning and hygiene standards within educational institutions.

Now, as we continue to recover from the pandemic, it is important that schools and colleges learn from the experiences, and remember the progress that has been made. Moreover, with warnings of winter norovirus outbreaks,  a renewed focus should be placed on disinfection processes, with rigorous reviews regularly taking place to ensure hygiene standards are the highest they can possibly be.

Educating students on personal hygiene

Alongside the processes that staff and school leaders' can put in place to improve cleaning protocols, it is also important to educate pupils on the need for good personal hygiene. In doing so, actions such as regular and proper hand washing should become common practice amongst students as they are embedded into their routines. Whilst the need to wash hands may seem like common sense, studies during the height of the pandemic reinforced the importance of good hand hygiene practices on reducing infection rates, so it is crucial that we do not let standards slip in the future.

Closing Thoughts

Maintaining a clean and hygienic environment within schools and higher education centres carries a range of benefits for both staff and students, including general health, mental wellbeing, and academic performance. If your school needs guidance and support on how to implement an effective disinfection process, please get in touch with one of our experts.