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Green cleaning protects health and promotes better learning environments, reducing environmental hazards that negatively affect childhood growth and development. Training custodians on effective cleaning processes is essential for helping schools keep kids healthy, in school, and achieving at their highest potential.
Improve indoor air quality and help reduce absenteeism in our schools! Faculty and students alike will benefit from increased productivity in an indoor environment free from environmental pollutants and irritants while ensuring safety for custodians. Whether it is training new custodial workers, expanding on what they already know, adopting new processes to work more effectively and efficiently, or testing new technologies – the key to success is dependent upon custodians being appropriately trained.
Measure your impact
Do a cleanliness assessment of the area (guidance for this is available in the resources below). If possible, partner with a college or university to measure particulates in the air before and one day after your clean-out project or measure the decrease in absence related to respiratory illness.
- Work with facilities staff to research the cleaning products being used in the school and district. Cultivate an awareness of different options in order to find a cleaning program that best suits your school’s needs and budget. Review Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to ensure proper handling and storage procedures.
- Find out what training would be helpful. It might be orienting new custodial workers; training on new equipment such as the use of floor machines, no-touch restroom cleaning or backpack vacuums; cleaning hard floors, carpets, classrooms or restrooms; new technologies for measuring cleanliness; right-to-know information; using personal protective equipment; etc.
- Schools can contact their distributors of cleaning products and/or cleaning service providers to ask for training assistance. Distributors of cleaning products and/or cleaning service providers will often schedule and conduct custodial training sessions on identified topics.
- Ensure that the training sessions are understandable by taking into consideration the custodians skill level, language and other potential cultural barriers of the custodians.
- Make sure your cleaning program is seen as part of your school's overall sustainability program by promoting your local training program through your school communication channels, including school newsletters, PTA or local school fliers.
- Connect student learning with sustainability action. Learning Lab offers high-quality classroom content — over 450 lessons — for teachers from kindergarten to high school. You can find modules to educate students about indoor air quality by searching by theme, learning standard, teaching method, or keyword.
- Healthy Schools Campaign’s Green Clean Schools Program is a comprehensive resource that contains guidance for all school stakeholders and answers to tough questions about cleaning products, chemicals, and strategies.
- ISSA, a cleaning industry trade association, publishes guidance for building operators and custodial managers, such as the Cleaning Industry Management Standard for Green Buildings and the Cleaning Industry Training Standard.
- Green Seal sets standards for cleaning businesses, which can be found on their web site.
- The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance contains cleaning credits and associated resources.