Preventing sick leave in a school environment

August 1st, 2015 Category: Commercial

Millions of sick days are taken every year by teachers and students due to common and infectious viruses, such as colds, flus, stomach bugs and other nasties.

The truth is, however, that many of these illnesses can be prevented by proper adherence to hygiene practices.

Of course, part of cleaning and maintenance is in knowing where the most problematic areas are.

For example, if high contact areas are known for harbouring germs and bacteria in a school, then these should be the places that are targeted when it comes to cleaning.

When you consider that some germs can live as long as two hours on a surface, it helps to highlight why regular cleaning is essential.

In this guide below, we have listed some of the filthiest places in schools, using information from a number of different studies.

Water fountain

The water fountain is a hotbed of germs and one where children are more likely to get ill from using it, due to the fact that they will often be consuming water from the fountain directly.

A US study conducted by microbiologists at NSF International showed that the water fountain contained the most amount of bacteria, with a reading of 2,700,000 colony forming units (CFU).

Cafeteria tray

The cafeteria tray did not fare much better, according to this study, which found 33,800 CFU on dinner trays.

School supplies

Health and medical news site WebMD said that with school supplies such as pencils, books and other resources being such a hotbed of germs, parents may want to opt for mechanical pencils instead. It is also possible to reduce the number of bacteria by cleaning these regularly.


Another major source of germs is the school desk. This is a surface that will be used by many different groups of school children, who may be eating on it, laying on it, leaning and working on it.

Therefore, in order to reduce the spread of illnesses, desks should definitely be cleaned on a regular basis. This is particularly the case in food demonstration classes or science workshops, where a lot of experiments may be held.


The keyboard is another high contact area that will contain many germs. This is one surface that many people tend to overlook when it comes to cleaning and you will often find that it is skipped by the janitors as well.

As a result, a very high priority should be given to cleaning the keyboard. The NSF International study showed that the keyboard was among the top ten places where germs were most likely to thrive.

Some 3,300 CFU were found on keyboards, which is even greater than the 3,200 CFU found on toilet seats.


Bathrooms in schools can be very filthy places, with many different areas that contain microbes.

For example, the toilet seat is a known hotbed, whereas the toilet floor, sink and doorknobs are also areas to watch out for.

You should be aware that if a child puts their backpack on the floor, the germs can then be carried to the home.

WebMD has advised students to hang up their bags if they must take them into the bathroom.


You would never think of a child catching head lice from a library corner in a classroom. However, pillows, chair covers and fabrics can harbour lice, which can then spread to a child's hair if they lean their head against the wall or lie down.

It is therefore imperative to ensure these areas are cleaned on a regular basis to prevent any bugs.


The cafeteria is another area where germs can spread fairly easily. Lunch boxes, cutlery, desks and trays can all contain bacteria and with children using the area to eat, it is imperative that these are cleaned thoroughly and effectively.


The above list is far from conclusive, but hopefully it demonstrates that all high contact areas in a school should be a major priority when it comes to school cleaning.

While daily cleaning can certainly help to reduce the spread of illnesses and bugs, it is also important to ensure that both children and teachers are aware of ways in which they can also help to cut the risk of infection in their daily activities.

So for example, it is important to encourage students and staff members to wash their hands whenever they use the bathroom, handle food, participate in cooking, or experiments of any kind or shake someone’s hand.

Using anti-bacterial hand gel and enlisting the services of reliable cleaners is another important step in the fight against germs and dirt in school.

By Janine Griffiths