Why Schools Should Do More Than Just Fogging for COVID-19
As life starts to normalize and schools reopen in the fall, it’s important to know the proper safety precautions in order to prevent another coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Keeping your students safe is your #1 priority, and there has been some misinformation floating around about the chemicals and cleaning protocols that are effective against coronavirus — mainly about ‘fogging.’
What is Fogging?
Fogging is a method of disinfection where the disinfectant chemicals are turned into a thick fog, where it settles onto surfaces and theoretically kills germs and fungus. The method as a whole is generally used to avoid disturbing the environment and to access nooks and crannies. Fogging is also extremely common in pest control — think bug bombs.
However, fogging alone is not a viable disinfection method against COVID-19.
- The Truth Behind Fogging
- Importance of Employee COVID-19 Screening & Testing
- How to Ensure Your Employees Are Safe to Return to Work After COVID-19
Fogging Alone Isn’t Very Effective Against COVID-19
The main reason fogging, as the primary cleaning method, isn’t effective is because COVID-19 disinfection requires surfaces to be thoroughly cleaned first. This is important because the friction caused by the disinfectant and scrub brush/towel ensures maximum contact with the virus, which will lead to the greatest risk reduction. Relying solely on fogging means you ignore wiping any affected surfaces.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has approved a disinfection process by utilizing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered and approved chemicals to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19. Many of the approved disinfectants require that a surface be cleaned with soap and water or detergent first. This is to wipe away any dirt and debris that may hinder the effectiveness of the disinfectant. These approved disinfectants are included in “List N,” a comprehensive guide to the chemicals that are able to eradicate COVID-19.
Laws May Require More
Additionally, relying on fogging only could be illegal. Fogging does not meet EPA-registered label requirements without proper pre-cleaning and may be a violation of federal law. More importantly, improper application of the disinfectant can lead to a false sense of security, an increase in health hazards and not be effective at reducing the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
Safety Protocols to Reopen Your School
For schools to begin safely operating, they should maintain healthy operations and take extra steps to ensure student and faculty safety. Here are some protocols that can be implemented to mitigate risk:
- Require students and faculty to wear face masks
- Prohibit handshaking
- Frequent hand washing should be encouraged
- Encourage social distancing measures
- Restructure classroom and cafeteria layouts to make physical distancing guidelines easy to follow and minimally disruptive
- Install signage throughout the building to remind everyone of new safety protocols in place
- Regularly disinfect high-touch areas
- Provide hand sanitizer in each classroom and bathroom with at least 60% alcohol or install sanitization stations in the hallways
- Encourage respiratory etiquette by providing ample tissues and no-touch trash receptacles
- School cafeterias should employ the same safety and cleaning standards as restaurants, including providing wrapped plastic silverware, no coverings at tables (unless they’re disposable), etc.
- Hand dryers in bathrooms should not be used
- Stay up-to-date on state and CDC guidelines
Faculty Screening & Testing Could Become a Local Requirement
As many local governments are forming reopening guidelines, we’re seeing an emphasis on employee screening and testing to aid in quick contact tracing. As such, organizations should keep an eye on evolving local and state guidelines and be proactive with their return to school plans for the fall. Planning ahead for future screening and faculty testing will make the transition to ‘normal’ operations a little easier.
Significance of Verifiable Surface Testing
Testing surfaces in schools, especially high-touch surfaces, is critical in curbing the spread of COVID-19. With some research showing the virus can live on surfaces for up to 17 days and so many unknowns about the virus, it’s important to take every precaution.
What is Verifiable Surface Testing?
Veriﬁable surface testing uses RT-PCR technology to determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the viral cause of COVID-19, on fomites (objects likely to carry diseases) and hard surfaces. Surface testing is an extra layer of measurability and accountability, and is imperative to both proactive controls and the efﬁcacy of containment measures. This process can be done pre or post-disinfection, and is recommended to be performed on a regularly scheduled basis after preventative disinfection. A thorough cleaning regime combined with systematic professional COVID-19 disinfection, surface testing, and faculty testing is the most effective way to combat this particular contagion.
Aftermath Can Help You Stay Safe
Disease outbreak is an extremely serious situation. If a COVID-19-impacted area is not properly disinfected, it could lead to further virus transmission. If your school does not practice the safety standard outlined by organizations like the CDC, students and staff are at an increased risk of exposure.
Aftermath Services provides comprehensive coronavirus disinfection services to make sure the virus has been eradicated. If you have any questions, we can explain the entire virus disinfection process from start to finish. For more information on how we clean visit our COVID-19 webpage or call us with additional questions at 877-769-6917.