Non-stop nursery cleaning

3rd of November 2020
Non-stop nursery cleaning

German correspondent Katja Scholz gives us an insight into cleaning protocols at nursery schools.

Playing together, learning together, eating together: a nursery school is place of great variety, a community enterprise with kitchen, dining room, playrooms and sanitary facilities.   If lunch is provided, a nursery school then also becomes – according to German law – a food business.

Bacteria and viruses also feel at home in these places. To prevent flu viruses and gastro-intestinal infections from spreading quickly, consistent hygiene rules have to be followed - and all this through the entire building.

“A 20-page hygiene plan, hand washing 15 times a day and reaching for a cleaning cloth 30 times a day - this is part of normal everyday life for us,” says Daniela Scholz, head of a nursery school in northern Baden-Württemberg.

Let’s take a look at everyday life in the nursery, in relation to cleaning:  all 35 children have breakfast in two shifts between 9am and 10am.  Between and after shifts the breakfast room floor has to be swept, the tables wiped down and the kitchen thoroughly cleaned, including all surfaces.

“Scrupulous hygiene is essential in a nursery - everything has to be meticulously clean, since children are particularly susceptible to food-related illnesses. Whether at breakfast, at lunch or on a day when we all cook together - all regulations have to be complied with. We are very strictly monitored - the health authority can carry out spot checks, unannounced.”

The kitchen is a particularly labour-intensive place. In addition to floor and surfaces, microwave, fridge, oven and cupboards are all on the daily cleaning list.

Lunch is from noon onwards and afterwards teachers begin cleaning round number two. The tables in the dining room are wiped down and the floor cleaned. It’s a bit like Groundhog Day, since all the children have another snack in the afternoon, followed by round three of the cleaning process.

That deals with the planned, foreseeable aspects of the work. However, with 35 children things do not always go according to plan – there are often little mishaps that cause teachers to reach for the bucket, such as when a paint pot spills over or a beaker falls from the table on to the floor.  And the need for toilet cleaning in a nursery is generally never-ending.

Only in the evening, when the lights go out in the nursery, does the official part of the contract cleaning process begin. Contract cleaning staff also operate in strict accordance with the hygiene plan. This lays down exactly what cleaning is to be done when, how often, with what and by whom! Doors, chairs, surfaces, floors and the entire sanitary facilities have to be cleaned every evening. 

There are separate cloths and dedicated cleaning products designated for each room and each surface. Window cleaning is also part of the cleaners’ (almost) daily work – at least to a height at which children can leave their finger marks.

When the cleaners have closed the door behind them, the day ends with an overview of all the cleaning carried out during the day. And this shows that teachers, as well as being educators, psychologists and playmates, are also to some extent cleaners. And this everyday activity doesn’t even take into account the additional hygiene measures imposed since March!


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