Back to school: Infection prevention and control in childcare & education settings

Back to school: Infection prevention and control in childcare & education settings
31 January 2020

Back to school: Infection prevention and control in childcare & education settings

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the roadmap out of lockdown on Monday 22nd February 2021. The roadmap included 4 steps, with the goal that all restrictions will be lifted on June 21st 2021 at the earliest, which is dependent on the success of the vaccine rollout.

Step 1 of the plan included that all pupils will return to school from Monday 8th March 2021, this is welcome news for many students who have not attended school physically since the UK was put into lockdown on January 5th.

Some parents, staff and pupils have expressed their uncertainty around students returning to school after a recent survey of over 7,000 teachers found that 42% felt unsafe, while 19% felt very unsafe. However, if a risk assessment is conducted in every childcare setting, and if infection control measures are implemented, this should help minimise concerns.

Maintaining a clean and hygienic environment in schools

Maintaining a clean and hygienic environment in schools

Cleaning surfaces and equipment in schools and childcare environments is highly important, especially in settings such as nurseries or early years or primary schools, as young children can be quite messy, and it can be difficult to reduce contact between them. Products such as Milton steriliser can be useful in childcare settings, at it has been designed to sterilise baby and child items in just 15 minutes.

When it comes to toys, soft toys and toys with intricate parts that can be hard to clean shouldn’t be used. Also, dummies or teething rings should be clearly labelled for each child and if they fall on the floor, they should be washed and disinfected before the child puts them back in their mouth.

To properly clean and disinfect surfaces and childcare/school equipment you can use wipes and disinfectant at the end of the day, or immediately if an area or object is visibly soiled. To thoroughly disinfect surfaces or equipment, you should follow this simple three-step process:

Remove organic materials with wipes

1. Remove organic materials such as dirt with wipes or a biohazard kit

Thoroughly clean surface with soap

2. Thoroughly clean the surface with soap, rinse and then dry

Apply disinfectant

3. Apply disinfectant and allow it to sit for the required contact time. Rinse with a damp cloth and dry

Choose the right wipes to disinfect surfaces at school

There will always be a risk of infection in schools. But choosing effective infection control products is one of the best ways to keep harmful germs to a minimum. 

Using pre-dosed wipes like PDI Sani-Cloth® AF disinfectant wipes (formerly known as PDI Sani-Cloth Universal Wipes) significantly cuts down on cleaning times and makes it easy to spot clean throughout the day wherever you need to. Use the wipes on non-porous surfaces to cut through bacteria, viruses, fungi, and TB. 

Our Sani-Cloth® AF Wipes are also alcohol-free making them ideal for use in environments where children will be exposed. There’s nothing in our universal wipes that could be harmful to breathe in or make skin contact with.

Wearing face masks in school and childcare settings

Wearing face masks in schools and childcare settings

Ahead of pupils returning to school on the 8th March, there has been guidance on wearing face masks in schools and childcare settings, with face masks that have 3 layers being recommended. The World Health Organisation advises that children aged 12 and over should wear a face covering under the same conditions as adults, especially when social distancing cannot be maintained. The table below shows when a face mask should be worn and by who, according to the guidance as of the 4th March 2021.



Who should wear a mask?

If social distancing cannot be maintained (indoors or outdoors)


Primary schools

Staff members

Secondary schools

Staff members


Lunch and snack times


Primary schools

Secondary schools

A face mask is not required except for when dinner staff are around the students e.g when helping an early year’s child to cut up their food

Dedicated school transport

Secondary schools

All pupils in year 7 and above


Visitors to school (including parents or carers when dropping off and picking up their children)


Primary schools

Secondary schools

All visitors should wear a face mask


Sporting activities and PE lessons


Primary schools

Secondary schools

A face mask is not required


There may be some people – children or staff members – that are unable to wear a face mask due to health, age or a disability reason. These people shouldn’t be routinely asked to provide evidence that they can’t wear a face mask and may feel more comfortable if they have a badge, card or sign to let others know that they can’t wear a mask.

Waste bags should be easily accessible to students and staff members so that they can dispose of face masks without the risk of cross-contamination. They shouldn’t be placed in a recycling bin or dropped as litter. It must be communicated to pupils what they should do with their masks when they want to dispose of them.

The importance of hand hygiene in schools and childcare settings

The importance of hand hygiene in schools and childcare settings

The most basic thing to start with when it comes to infection prevention and control in schools and childcare settings is good hand hygiene. As we have been in the midst of the pandemic for almost a year now, you are probably aware that you should wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or hand sanitiser. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend using a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol in it.

Staff members and pupils will perform various activities throughout the school day. The table below demonstrates when a staff member and pupil/child should wash their hands based on the different activities they might perform.


Staff member

Pupil/ child

Before starting and finishing the day

Before handling, preparing or serving food


Before eating food

Before using a keyboard and mouse

After handling soiled clothing or anything that might be contaminated


After coming into contact with bodily fluids e.g changing a nappy


After helping a child use the toilet or potty


After blowing or wiping your nose (or a child’s nose)

After any cleaning procedure


After outdoor activities such as PE or break times

After removing protective gloves



Both staff members and the children must know how to thoroughly clean their hands. You can do this by placing guidance posters in the toilets and staff rooms, with staff members who work with early years supervising children whilst washing their hands to make sure they are doing it properly. Creating a song or a poem that lasts 20 seconds could help young children wash their hands thoroughly.


To allow students to continue their education at school, infection control measures must be implemented in school and childcare settings so that they can continue to stay open. It is the responsibility of teachers, parents, and students to keep themselves and others safe.

Make sure you are prepared for this, with our infection control and PPE products, including Type IIR face masks, gloves, wipes and 70% alcohol hand sanitiser.

For more information check out our page dedicated to infection control in schools.

For more information on our infection control and PPE products, call us on 0161 902 3030 or email us at Alternatively, you can fill out the form below and one of our experts will be back in touch shortly: