Nationwide, cold and flu illness affects millions. It usually begins in October, peaks around December, and can last all the way through May. In schools, illness can spread quickly and without warning, leaving schools with an array of problems, from excessive student absences and related performance issues, to budget impacts from hiring more substitutes than anticipated. With so much at stake, it pays to start preparing your school as early in the season as possible.
Effective cleaning and sanitization is a huge factor in the health of your school, but it’s not the only factor that makes an impact. Here are three steps you can take to protect your school and lessen the effects of cold and flu season:
Step 1: Flu Vaccine Awareness for All
Your cold and flu season communication strategy should include janitorial staff, teachers, administrative staff, students, and parents. The first message to share is that the #1 way to prevent this is to get vaccinated. Key points and resources:
- Debunk vaccine myths. There’s a lot of misinformation about the flu vaccine, so this is a great opportunity to share facts. Here is a CDC flyer for parents on this year’s flu vaccine and here is an ALA page on debunking flu shot myths. Use email, automated parent calls, social media, printable flyers, and other means to get the message out that flu shots = protection.
- Make it easy. Can your school arrange for on-site flu shots? If so, be sure to heavily promote participation. If not, provide parents and staff information on where to get the flu shot.
Step 2: Preparations for Janitorial Staff
Your everyday cleaning schedule may lack the power to protect your school during cold and flu season. Here are some key points to address with janitorial staff:
- Take inventory of your products and assess whether you need to stock up. There are different products used for cleaning versus disinfecting versus sanitizing.
- Review how to correctly use disinfecting and sanitizing products. When used improperly, these products can be completely ineffective. Not only is this wasteful—it can be a health disaster during cold and flu season. Equally important is to review safe handling instructions.
- Refine your cleaning schedule. For example, your staff should already clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often. During cold and flu season, your staff may need to do this daily.
- Get a professional evaluation. Consider scheduling a free school health evaluation with a trusted supplier of professional cleaning products, such as Pollock. These types of suppliers live and breathe “jan-san,” so they’ll be able to quickly assess your products and equipment, and make recommendations for effective cleaning during cold and flu season. Pollock is an awarded janitorial supplier for NIPA/TCPN, a cooperative procurement program that offers schools access to special, highly-competitive pricing from trusted suppliers. To schedule a free consultation, call: 800.843.7320 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 3: Share Preventive Measures throughout the School
Everyday preventive measures like proper handwashing and covering coughs help prevent the spread of cold and flu. Supply teachers with flyers on preventive measures and ask them to review the measures with students regularly and display them prominently in the classroom. This webpage has flyers and video your staff can use to communicate the importance of preventive measures.