With schools opening back up and operating since being pandemically shut down, facilities and staff have done a massive amount of revamping and prioritizing sanitization to keep everyone as safe as possible. From wiping down high traffic areas, practicing social distancing, to implementing a hybrid type of learning, these are all great ideas to reduce the spread. But one area that plays a large role is school buses.
According to the Continuing Education Center, up to 80% of debris and soil found in a school facility was walked in from the front doors. The reason is because the grit, soil, and moisture collected on the bottom of shoes get tracked in, making it a top reason why ISSA (the worldwide cleaning association) encourages floor mats in these areas to keep soil outside. Now, this is a crucial way to help sanitize schools, but the efforts need to go a bit beyond just installing floor mats.
School Bus and Germ Infestations
There are about 480,000 yellow school buses on the road, carrying an estimated 25-26 million American students every day. This means it is the most extensive public transportation in the entire country. Though this transportation method saves billions of dollars each year on fuel costs collectively, it is also a breeding ground for germs and contamination, including Norovirus, HIV, Staph, hepatitis, and now COVID-19. These pathogens can live for days, even weeks on surfaces, and can transfer to hands, shoes, clothing, etc., and get carried right into the schools. In fact, if someone touches a surface on a school bus that contains COVID-19, then everything they touch inside the school building will become infected.
On the other side of the spectrum, those same germs can be brought back into the household, transferring to surfaces that could cause the entire home to become sick.
School. Bus Disinfecting Concerns
Well known associations, such as the National Education Association (NEA), recognize this concern as a significant problem. They see how school buses are essentially mobile environments that are prone to spreading infectious diseases, and proactive school bus sanitizing measures need to be implemented, even if it is a challenge to do so.
Most traditional school buses are large. This means that it can take a significant amount of time to thoroughly sanitize every seat once or twice a day, especially if only one person is doing so. From the seats, railings, doors, windows, floors, etc., the manual effort can be a core issue in performing this long-term process. Not to mention that the entire procedure is two-stepped, first needing to be cleaned with an all-purpose cleaner and then again with a disinfectant. The time spent for people to do this on top of their current roles can be costly and time-consuming.
What Opens Do You Have?
With the problem laid out, you might be wondering what other options there are aside from assigning someone to do the disinfecting labor each day. Luckily, there are some promising solutions that can foster a win-win scenario. The first one being electronic misting.
There are several misting systems available that can disinfect and perform activated cleaning. In summary, a mist is applied to the surfaces on the school bus and kills pathogens in an eco-friendly way. Even though someone will still need to sweep and wipe down the buses, it cuts the time spent doing so by taking care of part two of the two-step process.
Another option that is being leveraged is “spray-and vac.” This was initially developed to clean restrooms but can work exceptionally well for buses too. It is a no-touch cleaning solution that is fast, effective, and can target every surface on the bus. Once done, the moisture and the soils can be vacuumed up, and you can still proceed to an additional disinfecting process (like noted above) if you wanted to be extra cautious.
Conclusion – School Buses Need to be Prioritized
You have seen all over the news as well as letters from your school(s) on the upgrades in disinfection and sanitation to keep people safe. Though this is great, make sure you take a look at what they are doing with the school busses as well. Overall, it is fair to say that the majority of schools have taken the right steps to sanitize school buses to promote a safer, healthier environment for everyone involved. But if you are a parent or even a student who is questioning the new school bus disinfecting, do not hesitate to reach out to the school or the bus company themselves to obtain more peace of mind before getting on.