Fighting Flu Season in Our Schools

Fighting Flu Season in Our Schools

Cold and Flu season has become even more stressful in the aftermath of a global pandemic. This stress has notably impacted schools, their faculty, and students. Extra safety measures are being executed in schools for all ages, from preschools to colleges.

One would expect that the industrial disinfectant and sanitizer market would have grown exponentially in 2020 with the rise of Covid-19 and its variants. However, the market actually declined! The reason for this is social distancing and lockdowns greatly decreased activity in public spaces like restaurants, malls, schools, gyms, and activity centers. As most states have moved to less intensive protocols, the industrial disinfectant and sanitizer market is swinging back into a state of growth.

Preschools and elementary schools are especially difficult places to contain and control illnesses after they begin. Children are still learning cleanliness habits, and in schools with low teacher to student ratios, keeping up with sanitation on top of daily duties can prove a challenge. As influenza, stomach viruses, and even Covid-19 threaten to spread rapidly through schools, there are efficient ways to maintain disinfection and sanitation.

When fighting the spread of illness, the CDC notes the importance of terminology as well as practice.

  • Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
  • Disinfecting kills germson surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
  • Sanitizing lowers the number of germson surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.

With this knowledge provided from the CDC, schools (or other institutions) can devise plans to combat illness. When it comes to the flu, the potence of cleaning agents used is not as important as the frequency. Using too much of a chemical substance or a substance that is too strong can cause problems for individuals with sensitive skin or asthma, especially in buildings with large rooms with little moving air. The best cleaners to use in schools are disinfectants and sanitizers with short contact time (time you must wait before touching a surface after it has been cleaned), and gentle on skin and respiratory systems so that they may be used frequently.

Flu viruses are relatively fragile, so standard cleaning and disinfecting practices are sufficient to remove or kill them. Special cleaning and disinfecting processes, including wiping down walls and ceilings, frequently using room air deodorizers, and fumigating, are not necessary or recommended.

The influenza virus can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours, and studies suggest that the Covid-19 virus can survive on surfaces up to 24 hours. Because the influenza virus is easily disrupted, quick, routine cleaning can greatly reduce the spread of illness among students. For example, keeping disinfecting wipes in the classroom and asking students to wipe their shared items such as desks and chairs at the end of each class session will kill germs and allow for sufficient contact time between class groups. Products such as aerosol Lysol or Microban, which claims to continue killing germs for up to 24 hours, can be great backups to use on door handles and other touch points.

Schools, along with hospitals, public government buildings, and other institutions are the driving forces behind the current and projected growth in the industrial disinfectant and sanitizer market. This factor of the market, as well as others, are outlined in Freedonia Group’s recent report, Global Industrial & Institutional (I&I) Disinfectants & Sanitizers.

About the Author: Bethan Davis is with, where she writes, edits, and provides production assistance for The Freedonia Group and other brands

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