Reducing Across the Board Absenteeism at Independent Schools

School class

27 May 2015

Proper use of the correct hygiene consumables appropriate to certain tasks can play a major role in reducing absenteeism amongst teachers, learners and support staff at independent schools.


That’s the word from leading hygiene and related services provider, Bidvest Steiner, who says that reducing sick days doesn’t depend only on proper hand washing. “While regular hand washing for at least 20 seconds at a time with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser regularly, is the best way to prevent communicable germs from spreading, hygiene consumables are definitely the number two concern for schools,” said Rika van Rooyen of Bidvest Steiner.


Children spend the larger part of their day at school for at least 12 years of their lives, and it’s an environment where they come into contact with a huge variety of surfaces, from desks to doors, and engage in every activity from physical education on the sports field to reading at library tables.


The most common hygiene consumables appropriate to schools include surface cleaners/sanitisers, hand soaps and sanitisers and air sanitisers.


Ms Van Rooyen provided the following advice for independent school administrators interested in selecting the best hygiene consumables for their schools:


Surface Cleaners/Sanitisers


Surface sanitisers, or cleaners, should be powerful enough to quickly kill all bacteria while still being cost effective. Being overly-concerned with buying the cheapest available product – and not on its effectiveness – is definitely not a good idea in schools when the health of society’s youngest members could be placed at risk.


As their name implies, surface sanitisers should be effective enough to be used on all surfaces commonly found in schools, such as desks, floors and chairs, however, they should be gentle enough to also be used near food preparation areas, and other areas where children and staff consume food.


Hand Soaps & Sanitisers


Effective soaps and sanitisers are of great importance in the school environment where high-contact sport, recreation and learning activities put children at risk of not only spreading pathogens amongst themselves, but also amongst family members at home. Children should be encouraged to wash their hands after every break time at school and especially before eating. Regular hand sanitising should be encouraged throughout the day.


It is advised that hygiene soaps typically used in bathrooms, and hand sanitisers usually seen in classrooms should be tested before use to ensure they do not inflame skin or lead to dermatitis in sensitive skins.


Air Sanitisers & Air Fresheners


Because most products on the market either freshen air or sanitise air, and don’t do both functions in one, schools should invest some time in deciding where to place the different products.


Many schools, owing to budgetary constraints, might also be tempted to opt for air fresheners which simply creates a lovely aroma, over air sanitisers which sanitise the air but don’t produce a scent.


The latter take action against airborne micro-organisms damaging their DNA, destroying their ability to replicate and thus rendering them non-infectious.


The often noisy nature of most schools results in a ‘closed door environment’ ripe germ transmission and this makes air sanitisers crucial.


Aside from educating oneself in the proper use and choice of hygiene consumables at schools, administrators should also consider contracting with a professional external hygiene services provider which has both extensive knowledge of, and access to, the most appropriate hygiene consumables for a particular school. “The provision of quality hygiene services is a science in itself, and the reason dedicated consultants like Bidvest Steiner exist. It makes a lot of sense for schools to continue with the business of education while we busy ourselves with making school environments healthier, safer and more conducive to learning,” concluded Ms Van Rooyen.

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