Leadership Symposium Early Bird Deadline Approaching | Join K-12 leaders nationwide for three days of empowering strategies, networking, and inspiration! Discounted pricing ends March 1. Register today.
School Climate & Safety

In Battling Microbe, Schools Seek Help From Germ-Busters

By Katie Ash — November 13, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Responding to concerns about drug-resistant staph infections, schools nationwide have tapped into a network of professional cleaning services that come armed with heavy equipment, antibacterial foggers, and industrial-strength disinfectants to help kill the harmful germs—and quell the fears of the public.

Recently reported cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, have even led to some temporary school shutdowns for cleaning, although health officials say that infections are prevented primarily through good personal hygiene practices rather than aggressive sanitizing of facilities. (“Infections Put Administrators to the Test,” Nov. 7, 2007.)

But cleaning is not smoke and mirrors, asserts Howard J. Cohen, the president of CleanInnovations, based in Columbus, Ohio. His company provides cleaning supplies to schools and leases equipment they may not have on hand.

See Also

For more stories on this topic see Safety and Health.

“Cleaning [facilities] with proper procedures and training and tools is a key component” in preventing the spread of infection, including MRSA, he said. “It is critical to providing a clean, sanitary system.”

Mr. Cohen works with schools to either train in-house custodial workers to use his equipment or to establish a schedule for his crew to come in and disinfect.

Cleaning costs usually range from about $2.50 to $3 per square foot, and the typical school requests about 7,000 square feet of cleaning, said Mr. Cohen—although a large job could require as much as 20,000 square feet of cleaning.

“We’re not a threat to school staff; we’re just a complement to any school system that wants an outside cleaning company to do project work,” he said.

Federal health officials at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention generally support efforts to sanitize school facilities, even if it’s not usually necessary to close schools for disinfection.

“From a purely scientific standpoint, the health department officials say that routine cleaning with [Environmental Protection Agency]-approved cleaners is all that’s necessary,” said Tia Campbell, the school health specialist for the Virginia Department of Education. “But when school divisions are making decisions like this, there are far more factors to consider.”

A version of this article appeared in the November 14, 2007 edition of Education Week

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety School Dress Codes Often Target Girls. What Happens When Male Teachers Have to Enforce Them?
Male teachers say the task can put them in a risky and uncomfortable position.
11 min read
Image of articles of clothing on a coat hook outside a school entrance.
Laura Baker/Education Week via Canva
School Climate & Safety Are School Buses Safe? An Expert Explains
A perennial concern is getting new attention.
4 min read
Photo of rescue workers and turned over school bus.
Brandy Taylor / iStock / Getty Images Plus
School Climate & Safety Jury Finds Michigan School Shooter’s Mother Guilty of Manslaughter
Jennifer Crumbley was accused of failing to secure a gun and ammunition at home and failing to get help for her son's mental health.
2 min read
Jennifer Crumbley arrives in court on Feb. 5, 2024 in Pontiac, Mich.
Jennifer Crumbley arrives in court on Feb. 5, 2024 in Pontiac, Mich.
Carlos Osorio/AP
School Climate & Safety A School Removed Bathroom Mirrors to Keep Students From Making TikToks. Will It Work?
The desperate strategy for keeping students in class illuminates the challenge schools face in competing with social media.
5 min read
Empty blue school bathroom showing the bathroom sinks without mirrors.
iStock/Getty