Back to School—Classroom, Clinic & Office Fresh Start

The process of opening your school for on-site learning again should start by you looking at your office spaces, classrooms, and clinic areas with a fresh eye. Let “social distancing” be your interior designer. If your administrative staff sit side by side, you may need to reconfigure those settings. Same holds true for classrooms and other learning spaces. Pull out the measuring tape and start to imagine your environment in a new light. Think about having bare, easy-to-clean surfaces wherever possible; there will be a lot of cleaning going forward. Also, identify high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces at your school. How will you address the ongoing disinfection of those spaces? Begin your comeback by giving your facility a deep clean, and consider what you might need to add or remove to make the environment safer and easier to manage.

Remove

  • Remove clutter, knick-knacks, and unnecessary items from classrooms, gathering spaces (lunch rooms), and public spaces that don’t serve a purpose to the work or activity being done there. In these communal areas, consider removing items with surfaces that can’t be cleaned properly. Think about every surface a student or staff member interacts with in your school, and how you can keep those surfaces clean for the health of everyone.
  • Remove communal items from these spaces, like treat jars, pillows, sample products, water dispensers, etc.
  • Rethink seating in any classrooms, office spaces, waiting areas, lounges, and lunch rooms, both in regards to their cleanability and their spacing so that everyone can maintain their 6 feet social distance, per the CDC. You will likely need to remove desks, tables, and chairs to help students and staff keep the proper spacing.
  • If you are going to reopen your student clinic to the public, then those spaces must be evaluated and considerations made for best practices to ensure client, staff, and student safety. You will likely need to remove massage tables or treatment beds so as to reduce the numbers of people in the space at one time. Consider a larger 12-foot distancing protocol for tables and treatment beds in curtained-off, “communal” clinic spaces. You will need to stagger client appointment start and end times so there is no client overlap in the waiting area; remove unnecessary and communal items, including pillows and magazines.

Clean

  • Do a deep clean of all spaces. Use EPA-approved cleaning products and protocols on all surfaces in your school, top to bottom. Follow the disinfectant contact time, per the product manufacturer. Moving forward, establish a cleaning schedule for bathrooms, dependent on its traffic (for example, every hour), as well as classrooms and clinic spaces.
  • Wash all linens, rugs, blankets, and curtains thoroughly and reconsider which of these items to bring back.
  • If you have a student clinic, consider whether a laundry service would be helpful to you at this time. As customary, ensure you have a secure and covered way to store fresh linens and a separate lidded and lined receptacle for dirty linens.
  • In treatment and demo spaces, clean bolsters, tables, chairs, and stools as directed by the CDC and product manufacturer. Certain porous materials can start to break down with repeated chemical disinfectant use. Barrier protections might be in order for massage tables, chairs, and bolsters.
  • Clean your teaching tools, including skeleton and anatomy models, as directed by the CDC and product manufacturer.
  • Clean light fixtures and switches; window latches; drawer and cabinet handles; countertops; doorknobs, doors, and door frames. Clean floors thoroughly.

Add

  • Have hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and facial tissues available in all spaces and in every classroom. Have disposable paper towels or a standing wipe dispenser available to use when handling doorknobs.
  • Add a temperature-taking station to assess students and staff. If your student clinic has a separate entrance, repeat all protocols there as well.
  • In clinics, make available a hard-surfaced, nonporous chair or large hard-surfaced/plastic basket for clients to put their clothes on/in. You do not want client clothing to be laid over soft furniture that the next client will then sit on as they remove their shoes or disrobe.
  • Lidded trashcans that are operated by a foot pedal will keep facial tissues and other waste products from remaining exposed to the air in your spaces.
  • In restrooms, install no-touch soap and paper towel dispensers. Add a lidded, foot-pedal trashcan. Place CDC handwashing guidance posters inside your restroom.
  • If you don’t have windows you can open in your clinic spaces or smaller classrooms, consider adding a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) purifier. Although there is no direct evidence yet that these types of air purifiers can reduce the transmission of COVID-19, their use with similar viruses indicates they might help in some situations, and it would be logical that these filters could reduce concentrations of COVID-19 particles that remain airborne.
  • Consider marking 6-foot increments with painter’s tape in busy student hallways and other communal spaces so everyone understands the distance etiquette.

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