Hygiene, Sanitizing Strategies in the special Needs Classroom
Keeping classrooms clean and hygienic has always been vital in order to avoid immune system comorbidities in the special need’s classroom. The advent of the COVID 19 pandemic means even more effort must be taken to keep children with complex needs safe.
The challenge is how do we protect children and teachers where physically intimate interaction is routine and, manipulatives and assistive technology are so essential to effective teaching?
Here are some tips and strategies we’ve heard from teachers of how they are enhancing hygiene standards in special needs classrooms and resource rooms. We’ve pulled them together under the headings Sanitizing/Washing, Individualizing and Rotating and Distancing.
You can also check out our new Sanitization, Hygiene and Distancing range for more product ideas.
As you'll see, these are generalized strategies based on what we know at the time of writing. Standards vary across Canada and our knowledge of COVID-19 is constantly changing. Please look for guidance from your local public health authority for specific up-to-date recommendations on routines and tools that will help keep educators and children safe.
Good old fashioned soap and water, is effective and can be used for a variety of manipulatives and the Water Resistant versions of the Piko switches can also be washed.
If sink space is at a premium in your center or classroom portable sinks are available with hot water supply here.
Including a model designed to accommodate wheelchairs .
A low cost, simple tech solution is the new Manipulative Cleaning Tub Kit. These are Nesting tubs with a mesh bottom for complete washing and drying.
A natural option for cleaning is Benefect,. This is a line of hospital grade sanitizers and super concentrated cleaners that are made from botanical, biodegradable ingredients and use no chemical masking agents, fragrances, petrochemicals or phosphates. Even their spray-on disinfectant is a food grade sanitizer and does not require any cautions or warnings on their labels
|Benefect All Natural Multi-Purpose Cleaner||Benefect All Natural Disinfectant||Benefect wipes||
Benefect Disinfectant has a safety rating suitable for schools, child care and health care settings, and is made from plant essential oils -- specifically a high concentration of thyme.
UV sanitizers use C-ultraviolet light to kill viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. An excellent option for sanitizing fabrics and soft toys like Pudgy the Piglet Classic Toy and other similar toys or hard materials like switches mice, trackballs, joysticks and other mouse alternatives.
The new UV Tech Tub (available in December) has a large area, big enough for not only iPads and tablets, but even laptops/Chromebooks when open. That means you can sanitize the keyboard and screen as well as the outside. And its super fast -- it’ll sanitize in just 60 seconds.
The lower cost Touch Panel UV Sterilizer & Dryer has a smaller area inside and takes an hour for full sterilization.
Handwashing is one of the easiest, more cost efficient and effective way of combating the spread of germs. Shop our portable sinks here, which include electrical options with hot water as well as cold water manual pump options. Move them anywhere, where access to running water isn’t available, inside or outside the classroom.
And of course you can always add more hand sanitizer stations.
Individualization and Rotation:
One of the adjustments we have to make during the pandemic is to rethink sharing. Passing around switches, or communication aids between students is not advisable in a pandemic situation.
Some teachers have implemented rotation strategies for their materials, storing items for several days.
We know that if the virus is left on a surface without a host, it cannot survive. Lockable storage units like the Tech Tubs can be purposed for rotating system to keep classroom materials or even switches, mice, joysticks safe.
Physical barriers allow positive face-to-face interactions between children and educators while reducing exposure to airborne droplets and moisture produced by sneezing, coughing and talking.
In other areas, visual prompts can be extremely effective and can be essential in teaching students the new additions to our new community landscapes influenced by COVID.
Bridges has now added a variety of floor and wall stickers to prompt for social distancing, in English, French and Bilingual versions, too.
Check out these and more in our social distancing range.
Have you come up with other strategies? Please share in the comments or send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Angela Mpala