Frequent Questions

What information/guidance do you have on managing flu at school?

Q. What cleaning protocol should be used by schools to guard against flu? What cleaning products should be used by schools to guard against flu?

Answer: In keeping with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC guidance, EPA recommends that school staff routinely clean areas that students and staff touch often, using the cleaners they typically use. EPA and CDC do not believe any additional disinfection of environmental surfaces beyond the recommended routine cleaning is required.

Some states and localities have laws and regulations mandating specific cleaning products be used in schools. School officials should contact their state health department or department of environmental protection for additional guidance.

Schools should ensure that custodial staff and others (such as classroom teachers) who use cleaners or disinfectants read and understand all instruction labels and understand safe and appropriate use. Instructional materials and training should be provided in languages other than English as locally appropriate.

EPA provides a list of EPA-registered antimicrobial products at: http://www.epa.gov/oppad001/chemregindex.htm

Q. How is the H1N1 flu virus spread?

Answer: Spread of this H1N1 virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

Take these actions to help stop the spread of flu:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you do not have access to soap and water, alcohol based cleaners are also effective.

Stay home if you are sick.

Q. What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?

Answer: Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk, for example, and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

Take these actions to help stop the spread of flu:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you do not have access to soap and water, alcohol based cleaners are also effective.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

Q. How long can flu virus survive on objects (such as books and doorknobs)?

Answer: Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.

In keeping with CDC guidance, EPA recommends that school staff routinely clean areas that students and staff touch often, using the cleaners they typically use. EPA and CDC do not believe any additional disinfection of environmental surfaces beyond the recommended routine cleaning is required.

For more information about managing flu at school, visit www.flu.gov

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