WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- As parents, educators, and administrators decide whether to open schools with in-person teaching, there are escalating concerns about the ability of schools to put in place the programs necessary to protect the health of students, staff, and their families from coronavirus (COVID-19). A key part of most school reopening plans is the fogging or misting of classrooms with toxic disinfectants, raising questions about safe and effective disinfection and sanitizing practices, in addition to social practices that public health officials have advised, to prevent transmission of the virus.
"While people are eager to reopen schools, it is critical that they adopt basic cleaning and safe and effective disinfection procedures, ventilation and infrastructure changes, and adequate maintenance support," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. "However, these basic practices must follow the recommendations of public health officials, including a less than one percent community transmission rate, social distancing and masks, adequate disease detection testing, contact tracing, and quarantining procedures," he said.
In spite of the lower incidence of virus among children, many are infected with the virus without or before expressing symptoms. Asymptomatic persons, including children, may carry a high viral load and may infect teachers and other workers at school. They may bring the disease home, where they can transmit the virus to parents, grandparents, and other vulnerable family members.
Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends cleaning surfaces before disinfecting, fogging with disinfectant is not a time-saver. Paper and other absorbent materials must be removed from the space where the fogging is conducted. Since the goal is to provide a quick application method that does not require hands-on treatment, no area-wide fogging or misting is adequate at this time.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) advises retrofitting HVAC systems with the highest filtering efficiency, portable HEPA/UV machines, "purge/flush" air systems, among other recommendations. A report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on June 4, 2020 finds, "About half (an estimated 54 percent) of public school districts need to update or replace multiple building systems or features in their schools, according to GAO's national survey of school districts."
For the facts on meeting health protection needs for school reopening, see Beyond Pesticides' factsheet on reopening schools and web page on Disinfectants and Sanitizers for more information. See www.beyondpesticides.org.
contact: Jay Feldman
202-255-4296, [email protected]
SOURCE Beyond Pesticides