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To stop the spread of germs, it’s important to keep preschools and childcare centres as clean and hygienic as possible. This is even more important during a pandemic.

Children without underlying conditions are less likely to get sick if infected by the virus, says the South African Paediatric Association. They will show milder symptoms such as low-grade fever, fatigue, and cough compared to adults. But there is always a risk of infection, so it’s best to safe than sorry.

Emma Corder, Managing Director of industrial cleaning products manufacturer Industroclean, says there are simple steps a family can take to stay safe.

For Parents

“Before making the decision to send your child to back to childcare facilities, talk to your paediatrician or family doctor,” says Western Cape based paediatrician Dr Tamryn Phelps.

They can help make the best choice based on your child’s medical and immunisation history, your family circumstances. They will also check your child’s growth and development is on track.

Make frequent hand washing a norm in your household.

Connect with the caregiver. You want to be comfortable with how the centre plans to clean and disinfect. Find out how they screen children and staff for symptoms. How do they handle illness?

For playschools

Create a clean and hygienically safe play centre. Very young children struggle to follow instructions. They also spend more time on the floor. This will will require you to clean and disinfect open spaces.

Teachers and caregivers must know the difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitising.

  • Cleaning involves the physical removal of dirt, germs and debris by scrubbing with soap or detergent and water.
  • Disinfecting and sanitising, on the other hand, involves the application of a recommended product cleaner that specifies that it kills 99.9% of germs.

Clean safely

The overuse of bleach can have side effects for children. “Most bleach products remain on surfaces and may emit fumes if not used correctly. This carries a risk of possibly causing respiratory illness. It is critical that you follow the precise instructions on how to dilute and use the chemicals,” explains Corder.

Consider these natural cleaning agents

Make sure staff have comprehensive training on the correct procedures to be followed when using cleaning products.

Remember best cleaning practices:

  • Have the correct PPE.
  • Use chemicals appropriately.
  • Colour code cleaning materials to prevent cross contamination.
  • Dispose of dirty water and waste according to safe procedures.
  • Wash and dry all equipment before storing it in a clean space.
  • Identify detergents best suited for play area equipment.
  • Pressure wash outdoor playground equipment at least once quarterly. This will get rid of grime, especially on equipment like swings and monkey bars.