COVID-19: K-12 Schools and Childcare Programs




Cleaning and disinfecting are integral to reducing the spread of COVID-19. A studyexternal icon evaluating the persistence of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) on plastic, stainless steel, and cardboard surfaces showed that the virus is able to remain viable for up to 72 hours on some surfaces, which highlights the importance of disinfecting surfaces. Administrators should work with teachers and staff to decide which aspects of cleaning and disinfection will be handled by teachers, teaching staff, and custodial staff. School administrators should ensure that adequate supplies are accessible for teachers and staff and work with teachers and staff to discuss obstacles to more frequent cleaning and disinfecting and ways to overcome those obstacles.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects in the classroom such as door handles, desks, chairs, cabinets, lockers, bookshelves, shared computer keyboards and mice, trash bins, light switches, pencil sharpeners, sinks and surrounding areas, countertops, books and other shared learning materials. Users should select disinfectants from List N: EPA-approvedexternal icon disinfectant list, ensure safe and correct use, wear appropriate protection as recommended by the manufacturer, and follow directions on product packaging. For example, correct use of disinfecting wipes often involves leaving a surface visibly wet for a period of time and then allowing it to air dry. Ensure correct storage of cleaning and disinfection productsexternal icon, including storing products securely away from children.

Create a schedule to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at least daily or in between uses as much as possible. Limit the use of shared objects when possible or clean between uses. Cleaning and disinfection products should not be used near children, and staff should ensure that there is adequate ventilation when using these products to prevent children or themselves from inhaling toxic fumes. Special considerations should be made for people with asthma, and they should not be present when cleaning and disinfecting is happening as this can trigger asthma exacerbations. There are safer products and steps that can lower the risk of asthma attacks. Follow directions on the product packaging. To avoid using the product near students, consider the best times to clean and disinfect to avoid students coming into contact with the products. Some possible times to clean may include in the morning before students arrive, between classes if students change rooms, before and after food service, before students return from recess or breaks, and after students leave for the day. Consider the CDC guidance for Cleaning, Disinfection, and Hand Hygiene in Schools: A Toolkit for School Administrators when preparing to clean and disinfect your classroom.

Ensure proper monitoring of student use, especially young children or those with developmental or learning disabilities, when they use hand sanitizer, and remember to ensure storage, when not in use, of sanitizer and other cleaning or disinfecting products to keep out of reach of children. These measures are important to prevent swallowing, injuries (e.g., splashes to eyes), or misuse of such products, which can lead to serious illness and outcomes, including death.

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