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updated on 9 November 2020
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School types: All · School phases: All

Find out what regular cleaning arrangements you should have in place to minimise the chance of coronavirus spreading in your school. Plus, download our checklist for a deep clean in the event of a suspected case of COVID-19, so you can be confident you've got everything covered.

9 November 2020: we checked this article to confirm its contents are still accurate and removed some details that no longer apply.

29 July 2020:
we updated this article to reflect the government's updated COVID-19 guidance on general cleaning in non-healthcare settings, which clarifies how often you should clean certain surfaces and objects. There were no changes to the existing guidance on cleaning after a suspected case of coronavirus. 

Increase your regular cleaning schedule 

Speak to your cleaning staff to agree additional hours for cleaning

You don't need to deep clean on a regular basis (only when someone has symptoms of, or confirmed COVID-19).

However, enhanced regular cleaning is required, and your cleaning staff will need to clean: 

  • Frequently-touched objects between use by different groups (see the section directly below to find out which objects this applies to)
  • Rooms and shared areas more frequently, and between use by different groups 

Try to reduce clutter, and remove items that are difficult to clean, throughout your school where you can to make cleaning easier.

Focus on high-contact and shared areas

Your cleaning staff should use standard cleaning products (such as detergents and bleach) to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

They should regularly wipe down frequently-touched objects and surfaces, like: 

  • Door and window handles
  • Banisters
  • Work surfaces (including desks and tables) 
  • Bathroom facilities (including taps and flush buttons)
  • Remote controls 
  • Computer equipment (including keyboards and mouse devices)
  • Classroom resources, such as books and games 
  • Furniture 
  • Light switches 
  • Reception desks
  • Telephones 
  • Fingerprint scanners 
  • Communal kitchens or canteens (speak to your catering staff about whether they'll be doing this) 

And between every use by different bubbles or groups, your cleaning staff should clean shared areas and resources, such as:  

  • Sports, art and science equipment
  • Outdoor playground equipment 
  • Hard toys (you shouldn't have soft toys in school during coronavirus) 
  • Dining halls 
  • Classrooms 

If it's not possible to clean equipment between groups, store the equipment for 48 hours (or 72 hours for plastics) between uses.

Don't ask your teaching or support staff to clean 

Avoid asking non-cleaning staff to do daily cleaning like washing bathrooms, or cleaning desks or floors, unless it's in their job description.

If you're concerned you don't have enough cleaning staff to carry out the enhanced regular cleaning outlined above, contact your local authority (LA) for advice. 

If you've had a suspected case of COVID-19 on your premises

You may need to do a deep clean of certain areas. 

It's unlikely that you'll need to close the school to do this. Your local health protection team will contact you to carry out a risk assessment and advise whether or not a deep clean is necessary. 

Check whether your cleaning staff will carry out a deep clean

Cleaning staff may not feel equipped or comfortable to carry out a deep clean, and some unions are advising against it

To check this, speak with:

  • Your cleaning provider, if you outsource
  • Your cleaning staff directly, if you keep it in-house

If your cleaning staff aren't comfortable carrying out the deep clean, speak to your LA to find a suitable specialist cleaning provider. 

Download our checklist for a deep clean 

Give this checklist to the cleaning staff or provider carrying out a deep clean in the event of a suspected case of coronavirus. 

This checklist is based on Public Health England’s guidance for COVID-19 decontamination in non-healthcare settings that schools are being signposted towards in the DfE’s guidance for full opening of schools.

When carrying out a deep clean 

As a minimum, cleaning staff need to wear disposable gloves and aprons – they should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds once they remove these.

If there's a higher level of contamination (e.g. the symptomatic individual has slept somewhere on site) or there's visible contamination with body fluids, cleaning staff may need to protect their eyes, nose and mouth. The local health protection team's risk assessment will let you know if this is necessary.

Make sure staff use 1 of the following cleaning products:

  • A combined detergent/disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million available chlorine
  • A household detergent, followed by a disinfectant with the same dilution as above

If they use an alternative disinfectant, check that it’s effective against 'enveloped viruses'.

Check you can meet the waste disposal requirements

You'll need a safe and secure place (away from children) where you can store waste from suspected cases until the individual's test results are known, and for at least 72 hours if they test positive.

If you don't have an appropriate place to store the waste, you'll need to arrange for a collection of 'category B' infectious waste by: 

  • Your local waste collection authority (if they currently collect your waste), or 
  • A specialist clinical waste contractor 


This article is based on:

The following Department for Education guidance for:  

And the following Public Health England guidance for:

And advice from the following unions: UnisonASCL and NASUWT

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The Key has taken great care in publishing this article. However, some of the article's content and information may come from or link to third party sources whose quality, relevance, accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability we do not guarantee. Accordingly, we will not be held liable for any use of or reliance placed on this article's content or the links or downloads it provides. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.