Thursday, April 28, 2016

Vaccinated but Infected

Usually vaccines help people avoid a particular disease.  However, they are not always 100% effective.  Here's an article discussing an outbreak of mumps at Harvard University where all the infected students were immunized against mumps.  But it is not just Harvard. Other schools have been infected too.  Read on.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Quick Answers to SDS Questions

Here's a great quick glance at five commonly asked questions regarding the new SDS format.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) have been replaced by Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), which have inevitably given rise to a number of questions about the change.

To clear up any confusion, Tobi Colbert, business development manager for National Service Alliance (NSA), a group purchasing organization for contract cleaners, has highlighted some of the most frequently asked questions about this change, along with the answers.

  1. Why was the change made? The SDS was designed to make the information on labels consistent around the world.
  2. Are SDSs on every cleaning solution? An SDS is required for any product that will be used, handled, or stored in a workplace and is classified as “potentially hazardous.”
  3. Do the new SDS look different from the old MSDS? Yes. A key difference is the use of pictograms in place of words.
  4. How will I know if it is updated? The SDS will have a revised date.
  5. When should a cleaning worker use an SDS? Before working with any new cleaning solution. Workers should make sure the SDS matches the name of the product; review the hazards; understand the safe handling and storage procedures; and know what to do in an emergency.
For more information on safety label changes and deadlines for implementation, check out Cleaning and Maintenance Management's article from August 2015, called "The 411 on GHS.

Information taken from

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Gun-Toting Staff

Here's an interesting article out of California.  I perceive this could be a controversial issue, but it seems that more districts are considering it. What do you think about this?

California school district allows staff to carry guns on campus

Another school district in California will now allow staff members to carry concealed weapons on campus.
Last week, the Kingsburg Joint Union High School District, located in Fresno County, approved the policy following months of review, reports the Fresno Bee.
The superintendent is reported to have said the new policy will create "a safe environment for students and staff members."
Up to five members of the faculty with concealed-carry permits will be allowed to bring their weapons to school, after an application process, a review of their discipline records and school conduct. Nobody on school grounds will know which five staff members have been chosen to carry guns, school officials say. 
Those allowed will also be required to take firearms training twice a year. 
According to the Bee, while the state Department of Education doesn't track the schools that allow guns on campus, the Kingsburg superintendent pointed to the Folsom Cordova Unified School District. That school district has allowed employees to carry guns on campus for several years. 

How Can Teachers Work With Custodians?

Here's some great information for custodians and teachers taken from the PSE website.  

Cleaning for Health in the Classroom
Best Practices for Teachers
School Environmental Health and Safety Program

If students are helping:
 They should only use soap and water.
 Fragrance-free baby wipes could be used for quick cleaning.
 Most store-bought cleaning products are not safe for children to use. School custodial staff is responsible for cleaning schools. Some teachers choose to do additional cleaning. Here is how to ensure those efforts tackle dirt and germs safely and effectively.
Teach good handwashing habits - the #1 way to keep germs from spreading.
Use plain soap and water for handwashing – before eating, after using the bathroom, after recess, etc. Antibacterial soap is not recommended. Use plain fragrance-free soap. When there is no access to a sink, as on a field trip, alcohol-based (at least 60% alcohol, dye-free and fragrance-free) hand sanitizer or alcohol-based sanitizer wipes can be used. Hand sanitizers are not a substitute for handwashing. They are not effective when hands are dirty or greasy.
Know the difference between Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting.
Use the right product for the task:
 CLEANING removes dirt and most germs. Use soap and water. A third
party certified green cleaner is preferred. In the classroom, cleaning is
the focus.
 SANITIZING reduces germs to safe levels, for example in food service environments. Food code regulations have specific requirements for sanitizers in the cafeteria and kitchen.
 DISINFECTING kills most germs, depending on the type of chemical, and only when used as directed on the label.
 In schools, custodial staff use disinfectants and sanitizers regularly only in high-risk areas – nurse’s office, bathrooms, cafeterias, kitchens, drinking fountains, sink and door handles, and athletic facilities; preferably, when students are not present. Overuse does not provide any additional protection and can expose students and staff to harmful chemicals. Teachers can rely on basic cleaning to remove dirt and germs in the classroom.
If staff, besides trained custodial staff, needs to assist with classroom cleaning, they should use a school or district provided basic cleaner. A third party certified green cleaner is preferred.
 Custodial staff can make a simple all-purpose cleaner for classrooms. Mix one teaspoon of fragrance-free dish soap in a spray bottle filled with water. Spray on surface and scrub with paper towels or a microfiber cloth. Rinse and wipe dry to remove any residue.
 Microfiber cleaning cloths improve cleaning – the removal of dirt and germs. Dampened with water they are great dust removers. With soap and water, they remove most germs.
 Disinfecting is the responsibility of school custodial staff. They are trained to use disinfectants in a safe and effective manner and to clean up potentially infectious materials and body fluid spills – blood, vomit, feces, and urine. Contact your custodian or school nurse if students are ill and your classroom needs cleaning and disinfection. IF teachers use disinfectants, the district must provide training and supply the appropriate cleaner and sanitizer or disinfectant.
Cleaning for Health benefits all
 Lowers absenteeism
 Increases productivity
 Improves indoor air quality
 Reduces asthma and allergy triggers
Good to know:
 Kids are more vulnerable to chemical exposures.
 Many common cleaning products have ingredients that can harm health, especially the lungs.
Students should never use disinfectants. Disinfectant wipes should not be used to clean hands. This includes Clorox wipes.

Cleaning for Health in the Classroom
Frequently Asked Questions
School and Indoor Air Quality Program

How does cleaning reduce germs?
Cleaning works by removing dirt and organic matter that contains and protects germs. Soap breaks down oils and allows dirt, contaminants, and germs to be more easily removed. Cleaning with soap, water, and a microfiber cloth will remove most germs.
Why is handwashing better than hand sanitizer?
Soap and rubbing hands together under running water removes oil, dirt, and harmful surface germs. Hand sanitizer does not remove dirt in which germs hide and only kills a few easy-to-kill ones.
Why use plain soap for handwashing?
Antibacterial ingredients, in particular triclosan and quaternary ammonia compounds (quats), only kill a few types of germs and are unnecessary when washing hands. It doesn’t matter if germs are alive or dead when they are washed down the drain.
What about non-alcohol hand sanitizers?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recommends hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. Non-alcohol ones are even less effective than alcohol hand sanitizers.
How does this guidance affect fall classroom supply request lists? Okay to Request  Fragrance-free baby wipes.  Paper towels (recycled content preferred). DO NOT Request  Disinfecting wipes.  Non-alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
What are the issues with disinfecting wipes?
 Disinfecting wipes are often overused. They are not appropriate for general cleaning when an all-purpose cleaner or soap and water would suffice.
 Disinfecting wipes (e.g. Clorox, Lysol) usually contain quats and fragrance chemicals. These ingredients can trigger asthma and are associated with adverse health effects.
 Disinfectants can give a false sense of security because when they are not used exactly to label instructions, they don’t work properly. Most disinfecting wipes require the surface to be cleaned first, and then remain visibly wet 4-10 minutes (dwell time) to be effective, requiring multiple wipes.
Why is it important to use fragrance-free products in school?
Fragrance is one of the most frequently identified allergens, can irritate the respiratory system, cause headaches, and exacerbate asthma.
What’s so great about microfiber cloths?
Their split fibers create more surface area and are superior for removing dust, dirt, and germs. They are reusable and can be laundered or washed by hand.
Why should teachers not bring common cleaning products (including bleach) from home into the classroom?
 Some common cleaning products are dangerous when mixed. Never mix bleach with ammonia, acids, or other disinfectants. An example: Comet, containing bleach, would react with Windex, which contains ammonia, to form poisonous vapors.
 Common household cleaners and disinfectants may not be appropriate for schools and may cause allergic reactions or have other health impacts.
 Schools and districts must have a Safety Data Sheet for each chemical used in the school.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Marmoleum versus Linoleum

You've heard of linoleum, but have you heard of Marmoleum?  Both are touted to be environmentally friendly and very recyclable, but what's the difference?  Here's a quick read that explains the difference in about one minute.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Eight Years of Blogging

As of April 16, 2016, I have been blogging for eight years.  The time really does fly.  I have endeavored to share interesting stories of human interest, educational news items, amusing news pieces and commentary on various subjects.  I have attempted to keep my blog up-to-date and fresh with interesting items that can be used for learning and pondering.  I enjoy sharing this information and hope you have enjoyed reading it.  I look forward to another year of blogging and sharing educational information.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Pi Day?

Pi day was March 14.  So what is pi?  Our poll asked that question. The votes were all 100% correct. Pi is a number unique to circles. The first few digits of pi are 3.14159...Thus pi day on March 14. (3/14)  The history of pi goes back millenniums.  Pi is used to figure out the circumference of circles, areas and more.  Pi has been calculated out to millions of digits without ever repeating.  Get in on the fun next year and get a slice of pi!

57 Years on the Job. Would You Stay That Long?

Mr. Jimmy is going to retire.  He's been a custodian at the same job since 1959.  He's seen a lot of changes over the years and is as spry as ever. Upon leaving, Mr. Jimmy has left notes around the building stating "there's Jimmy's way of doing things, and there's the wrong way." Read the whole heart-warming article here.

Custodian Near Seattle Receives Award

Wil Chromey, a head custodian at Discovery Elementary School near Seattle has won the 2016 King County Earth Heroes at School Award.  Here's the short article detailing his accomplishments. Nice going Wil!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Student Attendance Correlates to Cleaning

How much does cleaning, age of buildings, upkeep, neglect of necessary building repairs and so on have on student learning in school?  The answer is A LOT!

The article I've included below from details studies done and the importance of good cleaning.  This appears in the April edition of Cleaning and Maintenance Management.

The Attendance Gap Flares Up

The cleaning industry’s impact on student absenteeism

March 28, 2016

According to a 2015 study, Mapping the Early Attendance Gap: Charting a Course for School Success, an estimated 5 to 7.5 million American students miss about one month of school each year, which has a serious impact on their academics.
The problem starts early, with an estimated 10 percent of kindergartners and first graders missing that much school. This is a critical time for young students, because it is typically during these early school years that they begin to learn how to read. Missing school at this important juncture can result in them falling behind their peers.
Absence rates can then spike again as children enter their teen years. This is another critical time because many teenage students, especially from low-income families, begin to question if they want to finish their schooling. If they are frequently sick, quitting school may seem like a practical decision.
But, the study warns, poor attendance is a warning sign “a student has missed the on-ramp to school success and is headed off track for graduation.”
We should note, these kids are not “skipping” school. The study, produced by an organization called Attendance Works in conjunction with the Healthy Schools Campaign, reports the reasons these students are missing school can be tied directly to a number of factors—but the first one noted is health-related, and links to asthma. This is an issue American schools and the professional cleaning industry have grappled with for decades.

The Impact of Asthma

According to the study, asthma, asthma attacks, and other serious respiratory problems account for about 14 million school absences each year. The more serious and frequent the attacks, the more likely the student will be absent from school and the longer those absences will be.
We know that even effective cleaning cannot prevent some asthma triggers. Some schools, due to age, neglect, or poor upkeep, have mold, mildew, and other problems that can cause asthma and respiratory problems.
This is where the professional cleaning industry comes in. The report specifically points out that “harsh cleaning chemicals” can negatively impact student health and trigger asthma attacks. Other studies going back more than 25 years have pointed this out as well, and it is not just students who are affected. A California organization called the Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP) reports custodial workers also have high rates of occupational asthma, which has been linked to the traditional cleaning solutions they work with in schools.

What We Need to Do

Our industry has made tremendous gains in transferring school districts around the country from traditional to environmentally preferable cleaning products and procedures; however, this study points out that we still have much to do.
One of the things we should consider is replicating what we started during last year’s Green Apple Day of Service. Working with ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association; the Healthy Schools Campaign; and The Ashkin Group, nearly 800 school custodians who serve nearly 311,000 students in seven different  school districts throughout the United States were taught state-of-the-art techniques and procedures to clean more effectively and efficiently using green cleaning solutions.
However, one single day each year is not enough. I would encourage those in our industry to become more involved with their local schools and school districts throughout the year. Reducing chronic absenteeism in our schools is every American’s problem, and it is a problem the professional cleaning industry not only can help to address, but one that students, teachers, and parents will expect us to address to help turn this situation around. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Peroxygen to the Rescue

Have you heard of "peroxygen"? Probably not. But its use on fabrics often considered "uncleanable" can produce wonderful results.

Check out this information as provided by Pemberton's  The information is useful and handy to have on hand.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Famous in Our Own District!

Check out this great article that just showed up online in  A great piece about Mark Sutton one of our maintenance staff.  Check out the article here.

Type in "whiteboard janitor" in any browser to find pictures of his drawings.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Elizabethkingia Strikes Wisconsin, Maybe Michigan

An obscure blood infection called Elizabethkingia anophelis which is caused by a bacteria commonly found in soil, rivers and reservoirs is wreaking havoc in Wisconsin where 17 people have died. Although the CDC is not sure if the deaths were due to the bacteria or to those already sick, they are desperate to stop the spread of this disease.  MSN has more details on this odd disease and its seemingly out-of-control spread.