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Tips for Keeping Your Classroom Clean and Safe

Jul 22, 2018 by

Classrooms are designed for learning, discovery, growth, and exploration. This means stocking the shelves with age appropriate materials and creating engaging, beneficial lessons. But your classroom also needs to be a safe and healthy environment for all students. This means eliminating any potential safety hazards, cleaning the materials and equipment properly, and practicing basic hygiene to cut down on the spread of germs. Here are some simple and basic tips for keeping your classroom clean and safe.

Sanitize

Sanitizing your classroom surfaces is the first line of defense against the spread of germs. There’s really no way to avoid airborne germs from traveling around your classroom and from a child’s hands to the table or toys. This is especially true with younger children such as infants and toddlers who are constantly putting toys and materials in their mouths. This is a natural way for infants to explore and investigate new things. But it also means their saliva and germs are easily passed through these toys.

When it comes to sanitizing toys, the easiest way to do this is by having a large bucket or container where all toys that are “mouthed” are placed after the child is done with them. This collection should then be sanitized at the end of the day using a bleach and water solution and left to air dry until the morning. It’s essential you use the right bleach and water ratio as to avoid overexposure to the chemicals. Having plenty of other toys on hand is helpful so that you can replace those that are removed and placed in the bin throughout the day.

Sanitizing tables and other surfaces can be done using the same bleach and water ratio in a spray bottle. Use regular cleanser and a clean cloth or paper towel to eliminate heavy dirt and debris from the surface before spraying a light, even layer of the sanitizing solution on the entire surface. Leave this it air dry for 2-3 minutes. If the solution does not dry on it’s own, wipe off any access residue.

You could even go that one step further and employ the services of a professional cleaning company. This is something that many schools are doing to help ensure classrooms are clean for children.

For example, Swanwick Hall School use the services offered by Ideal Cleaning to supplement their existing team. This is something you could try to if you feel your current cleaning procedure isn’t up to scratch

Wash Hands

Washing hands is another important practice that cuts down on the spread of germs and helps keep children and staff healthy. Both children and staff must wash their hands after using the bathroom. This should be done using the proper method, which includes wetting the hands first, creating a lather with the soap, and also using a paper towel to turn off the faucet. Hand washing should also be performed before and after meals, after any type of “messy” play (i.e. clay, arts and crafts, sand), and any time a child sneezes or coughs into their hands. Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are suitable as a replacement for hand washing only when running water and soap is not available but children should still wash their hands at the earliest convenience.

Encourage the Use of Tissues

Teaching children not to sneeze or cough into the open air can be tricky but not impossible. Encourage children to cough or sneeze into their shirt or a bent arm. Sneezing or coughing into their hands may prevent germs and droplets of saliva from being delivered into the open air, but those germs are now on their hands and without being washed immediately, are easily spread to classroom surfaces and materials. Keeping plenty of tissues around the classroom and encouraging children to use them when sneezing and coughing is another great alternative to using their hands. This also goes for blowing their noses. Too many times students will use their sleeves, hands, or arms instead of a tissue. If you have them available and use them yourself, students will pick up on the practice too.

Dust and Vacuum

These are simple housekeeping chores that should be performed in all classrooms. Some schools or childcare centers have cleaning services that perform these tasks for you, but if not, they should be done regularly. Vacuum the carpets in your room if there is obvious debris present or following an especially messy project or lesson. This should be done at least once a day. Dusting can be saved for the end of the week. Check surfaces, ceiling fans, windows, and other areas where dust might collect. Eliminating dust from the classroom will help those students suffering from allergies and can help cut down on sneezing and coughing.

Check All Toys

Broken toys are a breeding ground for injury. All toys in the classroom need to be checked daily. This means making sure that the toys have no broken pieces, sharp edges or loose parts. This is important for all age groups. When it comes to toddlers and infants, any small toys that may cause a choking hazard must be removed. As already mentioned, young learners are constantly putting items in their mouth to help understand their shape, size, and texture. If something small enough to swallow is placed in their mouth, they can easily choke on it. Using a small parts test fixture is a great way to check if your classroom materials are an appropriate size. Broken toys can also result in cuts or injury because they cannot be used in the right way. Remove any broken toys and replace them with new ones.

Check Storage

Checking your classrooms cubbies and shelving units will help keep students both healthy and safe. Try to space out personal cubbies, hooks, and other storage units as much as possible. Items like backpacks, coats, and blankets or other materials for rest periods should not be touching. This is due to lice and how quickly and easily it can spread. Ideally, no child’s belongings will touch at any point throughout the day. Check to see if your classroom’s storage devices meet these requirements.

In terms of safety, shelving must be securely placed on a level surface. Make sure that no piece of furniture is too tall, top heavy, or unsecure. Children, especially curious toddlers, can easily pull a large piece of furniture down on top of themselves, resulting in serious injury or even death. This is especially true when little ones attempt to climb furniture. You should also avoid storing any large, heavy toys on top of shelving units. These items can accidentally fall on top of a child or also be pulled down. Keep cubby surfaces clean and empty from any type of toys or materials.

Keeping students healthy and safe in a classroom setting is part of an educator’s responsibility. By practicing some basic hygiene including hand washing, using tissues, and cleaning surfaces, you can help to cut down on the spread of germs. Check your classroom materials regularly for any broken pieces or storage that seems like a potential hazard. Being proactive about classroom health and safety will benefit both students and staff.

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