Maintaining Healthy Environments > Cleaning and Disinfection in the Nurse’s Office Space
The virus that causes COVID-19 can land on surfaces. The risk of becoming infected by touching a surface is low. It is possible for individuals to become infected if they touch those surfaces and then touch their nose, mouth, or eyes. Therefore, it is important that the nurse’s office space is cleaned and disinfected frequently to ensure students who are at high risk for COVID-19 infections do not become infected due to lack of proper cleaning and disinfecting this space. Students at high risk for infection also include students who are challenged with adhering to mitigation strategies such young children and children with developmental delays or disabilities.
The role of the school nurse is to reduce exposure to COVID-19 in school nurse office space due to asymptomatic presentation of COVID-19 in children. Additionally, the school nurse minimizes student exposure to COVID-19 by screening all students for symptoms of COVID-19 and if present, not providing care in the nurse’s office but instead escorting students to the isolation area.
Cleaning- physically removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects by using soap (or detergent) and water. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting- kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects.
- Determine what needs to be cleaned by considering the type of surface and how often the surface is touched.
- Determined how often surfaces need to be cleaned considering the following:
- Prioritize cleaning high-touch surfaces.
- High touch areas should be cleaned at least once a day.
- More frequent cleaning may be needed if the space is occupied by young children or if the space is a high traffic area.
- Determine if regular cleaning is enough to sufficiently remove viruses that may be on surfaces.
- Keep in mind the availability of cleaning products and the personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriate for cleaners and disinfectants (if needed).
- Vacuum as usual.
- Use environmentally safe EPA approved products for students with respiratory compromise, such as asthma.
- Open doors and windows to increase ventilation during cleaning.
Clean more frequently or clean AND disinfect surfaces and objects if certain conditions apply such as the following:
- High transmission of COVID-19 in your community
- Low number of people wearing masks or improper mask usage
- Infrequent hand hygiene
- The space is occupied by students at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (e.g. asthma, diabetes, immunocompromised, obesity sickle cell disease)
Cleaning and disinfecting the area when someone is sick or there is a positive COVID-19 result:
- If less than 24 hours have passed since the person who is sick or diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the space, clean and disinfect the space.
- If more than 24 hours have passed since the person who is sick or diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the space, cleaning is enough. You may choose to also disinfect depending on certain conditions or everyday practices occurring in your healthsuite (e.g. caring for students with certain medical conditions).
- If more than 3 days have passed since the person who is sick or diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the space, no additional cleaning (beyond regular cleaning practices) is needed.
- When cleaning or disinfecting is warranted consider the following:
- Close off the immediate area used by the student who is sick.
- Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
- Wait several hours, or as long as possible, before you clean or disinfect. Then perform deep cleaning and disinfection of the immediate area in the healthsuite and any other spaces or equipment (e.g. tables, chairs, cots) in which the individual was in contact.
- Clean and disinfect all areas used by the student who is sick, such as isolation area, offices, desks, classrooms, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and office equipment.
- Disinfect with an appropriate EPA-registered disinfectant on List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- In addition to a facemask, wear disposable gloves to clean and disinfect. If exposure to splash or spays is anticipated, wear a face shield and cover gown.
- Vacuum the space if needed. Use a vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, if available.
- Do not vacuum a room or space that has people in it.
- For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floors or rugs, clean the surface with detergents or cleaners appropriate for use on these surfaces, according to the textile’s label. After cleaning, disinfect with an appropriate EPA-registered disinfectant on List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Temporarily turn off in-room, window-mounted, or on-wall recirculation HVAC to avoid contamination of the HVAC units.
- Do NOT deactivate central HVAC systems. These systems tend to provide better filtration capabilities and introduce outdoor air into the areas that they serve.
- Laundering clothing, towels, and linens
- Use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely.
- It is safe to wash dirty laundry from a student who is sick with items used by other students.
- If handling dirty laundry from a student who is sick, wear gloves and a mask.
Nursing Infection Control Education Network
Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility
Certain Medical Conditions and Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness
When to Wear Gloves
Your Guide to Masks
About List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19) | United States Environmental Protection Agency
COVID Relief for K-12: Use of Funds Advisory Memo | COVID Collaborative
The Science is Clear: Layered Infection Prevention and Control Measures Allow Return to Safe In-Person Learning | COVID Collaborative
Roadmap for Healthy Schools: Building Organizational Capacity for Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) | COVID Collaborative