Study: Cleaning Desktops and Other Classroom Surfaces Reduces Absenteeism

Kelly R. Bright, PhD, Stephanie A. Boone, MPH, PhD, and Charles P. Gerba, PhD



The presence of microorganisms on common classroom contact surfaces (fomites) was determined to identify the areas most likely to become contaminated. Six elementary classrooms were divided into control and intervention groups (cleaned daily with a quaternary ammonium wipe) and tested for heterotrophic bacteria. Three classrooms were also tested for norovirus and influenza A. Frequently used fomites were the most contaminated; water fountain toggles, pencil sharpeners, keyboards and faucet handles were the most bacterially contaminated; desktops, faucet handles and paper towel dispensers were the most contaminated with viruses. Influenza A virus was detected on up to 50% and norovirus on up to 22% of surfaces throughout the day. Children in the control classrooms were 2.32 times more likely to report absenteeism due to illness than children in the intervention classrooms and were absent longer (on average). Improved classroom hygiene may reduce the incidence of infection and thus student absenteeism.


Authors: Kelly R. Bright, PhD, Stephanie A. Boone, MPH, PhD, and Charles P. Gerba, PhD


The Journal of School Nursing OnlineFirst, published on November 10, 2009 as doi:10.1177/1059840509354383

JOSN, Vol. 000 No. 00, Month 2009 1-9
DOI: 10.1177/1059840509354383


Study: Cleaning Desktops and Other Classroom Surfaces Reduces Absenteeism:  Created on March 3rd, 2010.  Last Modified on March 3rd, 2010


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· 11 years ago

Having visited numerous schools in various cities across the country I have been able to interview a good amount of custodians and custodial supervisors. When asked how often the students' desks are cleaned and/or disinfected the answer is, "in the summertime."

With this in mind, a strategy of redeployment of services should be initiated focusing on high-touch fomites like desks, and directing FTE's away from cleaning areas less likely to cause cross contamination.

Vince Fagan
Fagan Solutions, Inc.

April 16th, 2010 | 12:13pm Reply

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