Parents are full of queries ranging from the ventilation in schools to how often doorknobs are cleaned as their children go back to the classroom. Lee-Anne Lyon-Bartley, the safety professional well known as the ‘Safety Diva,’ stated that there are a few questions parents need to be aware of for this back-to-school season. Anne talked about each school’s preparations, “I think you want to get a sense of, ‘What are they doing?’ What is the schedule at my child’s school for cleaning and disinfection?”
Bartley stated that high-touch places in schools, like doorknobs, handles, and railings, need to be sterilized “at least twice a day.” This is because so many hands will touch them. She also stated that the things that people are going to touch the most are where they are going to have the spread of COVID-19. Bartley wondered if those places will be disinfected, often and enough and whether the disinfectant they will use is approved by the government. She claimed that cleaning and disinfection are two different things.
Lyon-Bartley said those are some of the concerns that she will be asking her child’s school next week. She said something parents need to be pressing on is how much ventilation a school or classroom has. She noted that though ventilation is essential, it was one of the points that she didn’t think people had heard a lot about in all of the news that’s come through. Lyon added that there were the public health measures like social distancing and hand washing but [for] the actual physical building itself, ventilation can actually make a big difference.
She noted the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada (BOMA Canada) pandemic planning guide as a good resource.
She added that it talks about the way people want to ensure their schedules for their HVAC system, and preventative maintenance is being done and being done accordingly. Lyon-Bartley cautioned that it was worth probing to see if schools are taking these measures seriously. She added that some of the biggest questions on parents’ minds are supposed to be related to COVID-19 cases or outbreaks within schools.
She said most schools were going to have notification systems in place and indicated that her child goes to school in the Peel District School Board. Lyon-Bartley said they had already been informed that they would be able to see if cases are happening at his school or other schools. She added that public health officials will also be working with schools and will be required to notify the public separately in the event of outbreaks or cases as well. She said,
“So you should expect to hear from either the school board or from Public Health if your child is at risk.”
The most efficient way to ensure the information you are searching for is appropriate to your child’s school is to ensure you are looking local and official. Lyon-Bartley said,
“Stick to the information coming from your school board, coming from the government of Ontario, coming from the government of Canada, and also your local public health. Public health is different in different provinces, and it’s really important for us to follow what’s maybe the closest to home and get that information.”