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How Chicago schools and universities can reduce COVID-19 risks

Chicago’s schools, colleges and universities are facing enormous challenges. The coronavirus pandemic continues to impact startup plans on every campus across the city.

Whether you’re an administrator, facility manager or staff member, you understand the serious concerns that come with this school year. You must reduce COVID-19 risks in your educational setting. This overview covers effective strategies and best practices for learning institutions.



Focus on Advanced Planning

You might be working on remote learning options from different school locations. Perhaps you’re focused on keeping students and staff safe on campus and inside buildings. Regardless of how you centralize operations, advanced planning makes it easier to implement effective COVID-19 prevention policies. Facilitate your planning with these three steps.

1. Ask for Staff Input — Solicit ideas on the best ways to integrate coronavirus cleaning and disinfecting into different schedules. Use that feedback to build a comprehensive plan around these three basics: who, where and how often.

2. Develop Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols — Everyone needs to understand how to safely use products specifically formulated for combating COVID-19 in school settings. Develop and distribute materials that cover cleaning protocols, including best PPE practices while cleaning and disinfecting.

3. Establish Realistic Schedules — Coronavirus cleaning and disinfecting procedures take time, especially in large school buildings. Factor extra hours into staff schedules so that everyone shares the workload.



Follow All CDC Cleaning and Disinfecting Guidelines

The CDC is your best resource for updated information on coronavirus cleaning and disinfecting routines. Apply their guidelines to daily cleaning at your facility with these additional considerations for schools and campuses.

• Place emphasis on frequently disinfecting high-touch surfaces. For example, door handles, bathroom fixtures, drinking fountains and stair rails should be cleaned and disinfected as often as possible.

• Always use EPA-recommended products proven effective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These disinfecting products kill the virus on surfaces and reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 by touch.

• Be sure to keep an adequate stock of cleaning and disinfecting supplies available

throughout school buildings. However, avoid product stockpiling that contributes to shortage problems.



• Many cleaning and disinfecting products can be dangerous if misused. Make sure staff understands the safety issues involved. Keep supplies in a secure storage location that can only be accessed by approved personnel. This is especially important in K-12 school settings.

Encourage Facility-Wide Best Practices

In addition to establishing strict cleaning and disinfecting protocols, consider other COVID-19 prevention routines that can be implemented on your campus.

• Emphasize the importance of proper hand cleaning and disinfecting during the school day. Encourage best hand-washing techniques by posting age-appropriate CDC materials.

• Review classroom activities that involve shared equipment like art supplies and computers. All these materials need to be cleaned and disinfected between use. Consider limiting sharing that can inadvertently transmit COVID-19. Don’t overlook items in common spaces where students gather outside the classroom.

• The CDC strongly recommends wearing masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you do not have a mask policy in place, refer to the state’s requirements recently laid out by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Currently, all staff members and students in Chicago K-12 schools are required to follow mandatory mask rules.

Most facility-wide best practices should be based on your school or campus environment. What works well in a large setting might not fit a smaller school. This is another part of coronavirus prevention planning that’s better developed with input from your staff.

Enlist Professional COVID-19 Cleaning Services

In-house teams play a major role in controlling the pandemic’s impact on your school. From teachers to janitorial staff, you count on everyone to do their part. It’s a huge job. Professional cleaning services make it easier.

Here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, we provide industry-certified COVID-19 cleaning services for Chicago schools, colleges and universities. Our teams take care of scheduled facility-wide cleaning and disinfecting so that your staff can better focus on daily routines.

Our deep experience in infectious disease cleaning positions us to address your COVID-19 concerns on multiple levels. For example, we offer remediation and re-entry disinfecting after coronavirus exposures at the workplace. For information, visit

Know That You’re Not Alone

As members of the city’s education system, everyone on your staff carries enormous responsibilities. We all face the challenges of this unprecedented pandemic together.

We all look forward to the day when COVID-19 is behind us. Until then, we can all take pride in working hard to keep Chicago’s schools safe and our students healthy.


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