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“New normal” for building cleaning as educational institutions begin to re-open

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Now schools and academies are beginning to reopen and colleges and universities are looking towards the new term, cleaning regimes will be under scrutiny like never before.  Cleaning is now a crucial operation within your institution to keep students and staff safe and well.  There are a variety of activities you will no doubt be undertaking both before occupation and when students and staff are back in the building.

CPL Group and the CPC Cleaning Framework Providers are on hand to support our members in adapting their cleaning operations to cope with this “new normal” and have set out below five useful tips as well as additional resources you can access to adapt to this “new normal”.

Are you looking to either buy additional cleaning services to support inhouse arrangements or looking to put your existing cleaning contract out to tender? The CPL Group are here to help, CPC’s Building Cleaning Services framework provides you with access to regional cleaning contractors who have been comprehensively vetted through a rigorous tendering process, who you can invite to bid for your contract.  The framework comes with all the documentation you need reducing the amount of work you have to do!

Should you feel that your organisation doesn’t have the sufficient in-house expertise, experience, understanding of the marketplace or resources to carry out the mini competition process or you decide to tender in the open market, Tenet Education Services (also part of CPL Group) are on hand to run the tendering process for you. 

Utilising services offered by the CPL Group will enable you to benefit from funding and educational support we provide to our members each year.

Tips for adapting your cleaning service to the “new normal”

Review your cleaning specification

Top priority will be to review your existing cleaning specification. Cleaning contractors are recommending a move from visual standards of cleanliness to hygienic standards. This involves an increased focus on high intensity touchpoints such as door furniture (push plates, handles); wall furniture (light switches, sockets); IT equipment (telephones, keyboards); sanitary ware; kitchen appliances; vending machines etc to ensure those spaces are cleaned more regularly and to a higher level than before. Many organisations are reviewing specifications, so they can be reassured around the type of chemicals being used; 

“EN14476 – Is the European viricidal standard. To be able to claim effectiveness against COVID-19 the product needs to pass EN14476. No disinfectant efficacy test is currently available for COVID-19, therefore no products have been tested against this strain of coronavirus (but that doesn’t mean they don’t work). Whilst EN14476 certified products have not been tested against the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus they are shown to be effective against enveloped viruses (like COVID-19).   EN1276 – Is the European bactericidal standard.” – Bulloughs Cleaning Services.

Additionally, organisations are using cross contamination prevention techniques e.g. colour coding, disposable cleaning products (cloths and mops), using linear overlapping wiping techniques to clean touch points and hard surfaces, fixing cleaning areas and stopping team working.

The cleaning specification should also address the cleaning methods to be adopted should a person onsite develop symptoms of COVID-19 and/or a confirmed case of COVID-19 is reported.

Daytime cleaners – given the Government guidance reopening education settings, institutions may look to introduce day janitors or increase the number or hours existing day janitors are onsite e.g. to clean high risk areas more frequently, to clean shared areas such as dining halls and sports halls between use by different groups of students and staff.  Making cleaning visible on site through continuous day-time cleaning will not only ensure that a building is cleaner, but it will help to reassure students, staff and parents.

Additional items may need to be cleaned that aren’t currently in your cleaning specification such as equipment, toys, books etc used in teaching. 

Work with your cleaning contractors to so they can understand when, where and how the areas of each site are going to be used so you can jointly compile the most appropriate cleaning programme. 

CPC has updated its example cleaning specification that comes as part of the suite of documentation available to use with the CPC Building Cleaning Services Framework Agreement

Deep Cleans

Consider conducting a thorough deep clean of the whole facility before opening and ensure this is mandatory after any suspected cases of COVID-19. Also consider services such as fogging, this is a whole room disinfection method which lasts for 30 days. Make sure precautions such as covering electrical equipment and disabling fire alarms are taken first.  You may also want to increase the frequency of deep cleans in your cleaning specification utilising weekends where appropriate.

Contract Changes

Ensure a written form of the new specification is produced, agree any cost implications to your existing contract and document these changes formally using a variation to contract form. CPC have produced a template Variation to Contract Form that can be adapted to reflect your requirements to assist with this.  This is can be downloaded from the Additional Documents section of the CPC Building Cleaning Services Framework page.

Undertake due diligence checks on your cleaning contractor

Whilst the majority of cleaning contractors will be communicating with you already about their response to cleaning during this pandemic, it pays to ask for copies of their risk assessments and staff training plans they have put in place to ensure their cleaning staff are kept safe and to keep others safe whilst carrying out their duties on your premises.

CPC have contacted all the suppliers on the current CPC Building Cleaning Services framework and asked for copies of both their risk assessments and staff training procedures. They will be available on the individual supplier pages on the CPC website as they are received. 

Julius Rutherfoord & Co (one of the cleaning contractors on the CPC Building Cleaning Services Framework) has made a range of materials relating to their response to COVID-19 available as a free download from their website which may be particularly useful to those schools, academies, colleges and universities who operate an inhouse cleaning function and wish to compare their own due diligence processes against the cleaning industry.

Funding additional cleaning regimes

Increases to your cleaning specification may result in increased costs of cleaning services.  The DfE issued guidance in April 2020 on funding exceptional costs associated with COVID-19 which indicates that “increased premises related costs (including utilities and resources needed to keep the school open, such as hygiene services)” and “additional cleaning – required due to confirmed or suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, in line with COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings, over and above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements, are covered by this fund.” 

The guidance states that “Funding will be available for all state-funded mainstream and special schools, and alternative provision, including:

  • primary, secondary and all through maintained schools, academies and free schools
  • 16 to 19 academies and maintained schools
  • maintained special schools
  • special academies and free schools
  • non-maintained special schools
  • pupil referral units
  • alternative provision academies and free schools
  • maintained hospital schools and academies”

Please see the DfE guidance for more information and contact the DfE directly if you have any queries.

Should you be an institution that has continued paying their cleaning contractor during the period of shutdown, you might be in a position to use this goodwill to negotiate on some of the cost implications associated with any additional cleaning requirements!

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