Early in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic changed everything for schools. The arrival of COVID-19 forced schools to quickly adjust their approaches to education and school safety, with many forced to shorten their academic years and close their campuses.
With a new academic year starting, schools are consulting ever-changing guidelines as they prepare for the return of students to school buildings. What is clear is that handwashing and hygiene will play a critical role in the ability of schools to reopen and stay open. As the preferred choice of schools for more than 100 years, Chicago Faucets is committed to helping building managers equip their schools for the safe return of students.
Reopening Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Before administrators begin planning for the return of students and teachers, they first have to decide whether to reopen at all. So, does it make sense to open schools? Based on recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), school administrators should answer the following before deciding to reopen:
• If you open will you be in compliance with current state and local orders?
• Can you protect medically high-risk children and adults?
• Are you able to screen students and employees for COVID-19 exposure?
• Are recommended health and safety actions in place?
• Can you promote appropriate hygiene practices?
• Can you increase your cleaning protocols to an appropriate level to prevent the spread of the virus?
• Can you encourage social distancing and provide the appropriate space to make it possible?
• Can you train your staff to ensure they follow state and local orders?
• Is ongoing monitoring in place to check for signs and symptoms of illness?
• Are you ready to manage students and employees with symptoms?
• Are you ready to provide leave and resources to students and employees who contract COVID-19?
To reopen, your school should be prepared to follow the CDC's guidelines for preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus. According to the CDC, if you’re not equipped to meet any of the needs listed above, you should spend more time developing proper safeguards before moving on to reopening preparations. As you’re putting your health and safety safeguards in place at your schools, Chicago Faucets is ready to help your employees and students follow the number one preventative measure to avoid transmission: frequent hand washing.
Promote Good Hand Hygiene
To promote good hand hygiene, make handwashing stations available across your campuses and post signs to encourage frequent handwashing. These printable posters and signs from the CDC make it easy to guide students, staff and visitors to use proper handwashing.
Other important recommendations from the CDC include:
• Covering your mouth and nose
• Wearing a face mask
• Cleaning and disinfecting often
• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
• Avoiding close contact with others (defined as within six feet for 10 minutes or longer)
Ensure Your Water Supply is Safe Before ReopeningIf your campus has been closed for more than two weeks, you’ll want to double-check that your facility’s water supply is safe. This is especially true if your campus was closed abruptly without following any protocols prior to shutting off water lines.
When a facility’s water isn’t used for a long period of time, water left standing in supply lines or fixtures can harbor bacteria, which can include Legionella (the cause of Legionnaires’ disease) and mold. Unused water lines and equipment may also contain heavy metals, nitrates and possible chemical residue from prior chemical flushes.
Use this guidance from the United States EPA and CDC for restoring water quality in a reopened building.
Critical Steps for Water Maintenance Safety:
• Flush plumbing lines
• Develop a risk assessment and water management plan that includes current best practices
• Create a reopening plan that includes cleaning, draining or disinfecting all equipment
• Consult with an experienced water treatment advisor
• In major metropolitan areas, contact your water supplier to schedule water system flushes to avoid conflicts with other local organizations
Chicago Faucets has Solutions to Help You Reopen
According to experienced school maintenance managers, Chicago Faucets is the preferred choice for schools. For more than 100 years we've provided durable, high-quality equipment to K-12 schools, colleges and universities. We’re proud to make products that are built to last in high-use environments.
Restroom Faucet Technology for More Effective Handwashing
Touchless Electronic Faucets
Touchless faucets allow students and faculty to wash their hands without ever touching the faucet. This option is ideal for preventing the spread of germs.
Metering faucets allow students and faculty to turn on faucets with a single touch and wash their hands with a predetermined amount of water. The water will automatically shut itself off and just washed hands won't have to touch a contaminated faucet handle to turn it off. This is a good option for preventing the spread of germs.
Convert Manual Faucets to Metering Faucets
Many manual Chicago faucets can easily be retrofitted to become metered faucets. Contact The Part Worksand we'll explore your options. Our expert team can guide you through retrofitting your manual faucets.
Glass and Bottle Fillers
To further reduce touch points that transfer viruses and germs, schools are replacing water fountains with glass fillers. Glass filler systems prevent students from contacting water fountain spigots with their mouths. Plus, they’re a more environmentally friendly option as they make it easy to refill cups and bottles.
Which Chicago Faucet is Right For You?
With so many options for low- and no-touch faucets, it can be hard to know which one is the right option for your facility, and many manual Chicago faucets can easily be retrofitted to become metered faucets. Contact The Part Worksand we'll explore your options. Our expert team can guide you through retrofitting your manual faucets.
Moving Forward With Confidence
Chicago Faucets understands our customers are facing unprecedented challenges as they work to reopen their schools. We partner with the best specialty distributors, such as The Part Works, to help you select the right solutions for your facilities and offer unparalleled support.
While maintenance professionals may work behind the scenes, your work is critical for the health and safety of your students, faculty and school employees. Thank you for all you do!
As a company with more than 100 years of experience, we've weathered other difficult times. We'll get through this together and emerge stronger than ever.
For more information about opening schools in the midst of COVID-19 please view our webinar, "Chicago Faucets University: Getting Your School Ready for the Upcoming School Year."
As always, The Part Works is ready to support our customers. Contact us for support, guidance and troubleshooting today.