Hand washing and regular cleaning/disinfection for Ready Schools, Safe Learners

Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education have recommended layered health and safety measures for the protection of all children and staff in Oregon schools. How much protection do these measures provide?

Every layer matters. Keeping your hands clean is one of the simplest, most effective ways to prevent the spread of any contagious infection, including COVID-19.

How clean hands and surfaces help prevent the spread of COVID-19

Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. In Oregon’s Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework for the 2021-22 School Year, OHA and ODE strongly advise that schools:

  • Ensure access to soap, water and alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Prioritize handwashing with soap and water after students or staff use the restroom.
  • Encourage everyone on campus to frequently wash their hands or use hand sanitizer.
  • Remind students of the importance of hand hygiene and covering coughs and sneezes with an elbow or tissue.

ODE’s statewide Communicable Disease Guidelines require all schools to:

  • Clean surfaces or objects commonly touched by students or staff (such as doorknobs, desktops, toys, exercise mats) at least daily, and
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects soiled with body fluids as soon as possible.

Ways to keep your hands clean

Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes. Need to rub your eye? Use the back of your arm. Need to adjust your mask? Only touch your mask by the straps, not the front part you have been breathing through.

At a minimum, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer for 20 seconds before eating and after using shared items such as playground equipment, restrooms and group classroom supplies.

What to do if you have concerns about cleaning and disinfection at your local schools

All Oregon school districts have posted their current COVID-19 safety protocols, which explain how they are following the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance. You can find links to information for your school district on ODE’s Ready Schools website.

If you believe a school is not in compliance with Oregon’s Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance, you can file a named or confidential complaint with Oregon OSHA at 1-833-604-0884 or online. School safety and other COVID-19 school related questions can be answered by emailing ODE.

The best protection: COVID-19 vaccines

All three COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective in preventing severe COVID-19 infection leading to hospitalization. The Pfizer vaccine is available in two forms for children:

  • Pediatric form for children ages 5 through 11
  • Adult form for children ages 12 through 17

If you care for children aged 5 or older, visit OHA’s Find a COVID-19 Vaccine in Oregon web page to schedule their vaccine appointment today.