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Back to School and Back to Basics... COVID Style

It is time for students everywhere to return to school, but like many things in this world, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is affecting back to school as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued guidance. Preparing K-12 School Administrators for a Safe Return to School in Fall 2020, with valuable information for those with school-aged family members or anyone who works within the education system, including nurses, teachers, and administrators.

Best practices for healthcare organizations are similar to that of schools, with the necessity to communicate, educate, and reinforce personal protective behaviors to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In the spirit of back to school, let us get back to the basics of the infectious cycle and how to prevent the spread of infections, including COVID-19.

Understanding the Infectious Cycle

There are six links in the infection cycle which, begin when a pathogen, also called micro-organism enters the body and can cause disease or illness. The six links of the infectious cycle are:

  1. Infectious Agents - viruses, bacteria, pathogens, etc.
  2. Reservoirs - fomites, people, surfaces, etc.
  3. Portals of Exit -respiratory, gastrointestinal, skin, etc.
  4. Modes of Transmission -direct contact, indirect contact, droplet spread, etc.
  5. Portal of Entry -mucous membranes, broken skin, etc.
  6. Susceptible Host - an infected person to start the cycle again.

Breaking the Links

Several strategies can break the links of the infectious cycle. Many are things we have heard often throughout this pandemic, such as keeping hands and surfaces clean and disinfected, along with protecting ourselves and others with the use of masks and social distancing.

Hand Hygiene for Healthcare - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), practicing hand hygiene is a simple yet, effective way to prevent infections and the spread of germs.

  • Hand washing: To properly clean your hands, wet hands with water and apply the recommended amount of product to hands, rub hands together vigorously (be sure to do all the surfaces of hands and fingers) for 15-20 seconds. Rinse off hands with water, dry with a disposable towel, and use the towel to clean off the faucet.
  • Hand sanitizer: At times, handwashing is not a readily available option; in these moments, hand sanitizer can be a great substitute. Hand sanitizer should be alcohol-based, ideally containing at least 60% ethanol. Recently, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released an alert of an updated list of unsafe hand sanitizer products.

Cleaning and Disinfecting - Routinely cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces reduce the spread of infection transmission, including COVID-19. The CDC provides a how-to clean and disinfects surfaces for facilities, including how to safely and adequately clean electronics, soft surfaces, outdoor areas, and how to clean and disinfect our building or facility when someone is sick,

  • Cleaning: Wear disposable gloves to clean surfaces with soap and water first to reduce the number of germs, dirt, impurities on the surface, then use disinfectant to kill the germs.
  • Disinfecting: The CDC recommends using one of the following EPA-registered household disinfectants to kill COVID or surface safe diluted bleach. Always read and follow the directions on the label while wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, eye protection, masks, and gowns. While cleaning and disinfecting, be careful to ensure that there is safe ventilation.

Healthcare Compliance is your go-to resource for all things compliance, including all things COVID-related! Please check out our COVID Toolkit, and contact your compliance specialist (855.427.0427) to discuss adding our COVID-19 Toolkit to your existing compliance program. For additional information on the six links in the infection cycle, and how to break them, please consider adding training from our Infection Control Series, including courses on Infection Control, Infection Transmission, MRSA, Wound Cleansing, Healing, and Sepsis.

To find out what Healthcare Compliance can do for your organization's needs, please contact us today for a Free Consultation!