Spartan Chemical Company, Inc.’s Guidance on Use of Disinfectants by Students and Teachers in Classrooms
Returning to school in fall 2020 poses new challenges for schools, their staff, students, teachers, parents and the broader school community. Maintaining a safe and healthy school environment during the COVID-19 pandemic involves a number of mitigation strategies, including reducing the risk of exposure to the virus through a managed program of cleaning and disinfection by trained custodial staff.
In recent days, some people have advocated as an additional or alternative infection safeguard that teachers and students should also be given access to disinfectants to treat frequently touched surfaces such as desks, drinking fountains, sink and door handles. Spartan Chemical urges caution to those schools, teachers, students and parents that are considering these options, and in particular to any plans that intend to put disinfectants in the hands of students.
Professional cleaning products, including disinfectants, are OHSA-regulated and should not be put into the hands of untrained staff. Under no circumstances should minors be required to use professional OSHA-regulated cleaning products.
Although it is not our recommendation, teachers may apply disinfectants in the classroom if proper procedures are followed and the school district ensures that they conduct OSHA-mandated Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Training with teachers and staff so compliance is properly documented.
In addition, preparing and applying most cleaning and disinfection products also includes personal protection equipment (PPE) requirements. The professional cleaning industry utilizes highly concentrated formulas that can be corrosive to skin and soft tissues (eyes and mucus membranes) and diluted products can still cause “irritation” to skin and soft tissues. All User Prepared Safety Data Sheets recommend use of gloves and eye protection for multiple reasons including protecting the user from contamination of the very pathogen that they are attempting to eliminate.
Disinfectants are EPA-registered pesticides used to kill bacteria, viruses and fungi on hard environmental surfaces. When trying to remove infectious microbes from a surface, proper use of disposable hand protection helps limit the user’s potential exposure to these organisms and possible further transmission.
Spartan also recommends use of PPE as the normal/intended users of our products are trained facility services staff who apply the products continuously throughout the day and are exposed for extended periods of time.
It is the sole responsibility and liability of the employer to determine appropriate PPE requirements in the context of how they intend their employees to use the product. All Spartan disinfectants and other products should always be used consistent with their Directions for Use.
For more information about safely reopening schools in fall 2020, download the CDC document Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes