Clean education

Clean education

Future-proofing educational settings against future pandemics and illness by Jarek Salek, Head of Engineering and Technical Operations at Uvisan

With the vaccine roll-out now in full swing and the majority of the UK’s adult population having received at least one dose, schools are increasingly becoming an area of concern in the spread of Covid-19.

Constant cases in schools are leading to entire year groups or class bubbles being sent home to isolate and one week in June saw 275,000 children off school because of infections, self-isolation and school closures.

Although there are ambitions to vaccinate secondary school aged children before they return to the classroom in September, schools and other educational institutions should prepare to continue stringent hygiene measures into the new school year and not gamble purely on students receiving vaccines to curb outbreaks.

It is not clear when younger children will receive vaccines and there is hesitancy surrounding them being vaccinated at all. In addition, a future pandemic is no longer a far-off threat and robust hygiene policies will prevent other contagious illnesses from spreading in schools. Considering the constant disruptions to education over the past two academic years, limiting the spread of any contagious diseases that may cause students to need further time off is essential.

As the government plans to scrap rules surrounding self-isolation following cases in schools in the autumn to keep as many students learning as possible, better sanitation will be essential in containing cases occurring in schools going forwards.

Schools, colleges and universities will already have infection measures in place, but they must now ensure that processes are watertight to protect staff and students, without total reliance on people receiving vaccines.

Improve disinfection processes

A key way that viruses and other pathogens are transmitted is through high-frequency touchpoints or shared equipment that multiple students and teachers touch. Regularly and thoroughly sanitising these items and touchpoints is critical to slowing down the spread of an illness in educational settings.

A study by the American Society for Microbiology found that a virus on a door handle in a busy setting such as an office could be detected on 40-60% of people and commonly touched objects within two to four hours. This demonstrates how quickly illnesses can spread and the importance of regular disinfection.

Equipment used shared between students in lessons, such as iPads, science equipment, musical instruments or VR headsets, must be thoroughly disinfected between each use. This creates an extra job for teachers and other school staff to manage and using traditional cleaning methods such as wet wipes and chemicals can be arduous, so institutions should explore technology that can support and improve sanitation.

Invest in sanitation technology

The pandemic has highlighted the potential role of technology in curbing viral transmissions and medical-grade UV-C light has become a popular tool to keep schools, colleges and universities as protected from viral outbreaks as possible.

UV-C technology kills or deactivates pathogens on any surface or air exposed to the light in a matter of minutes and is being used in educational settings to sanitise both shared, handheld equipment and entire spaces.

The shortwave light technology can be harnessed in a lockable cabinet and used to disinfect items such as laptops, tablets and VR headsets. Hazelwood School, a primary school in Surrey, implemented a UV-C cabinet into its virus control measures at the beginning of the last school year to disinfect its bank of iPads used by some of the youngest learners at the school. Before using the technology, the school had been forced to remove digital iPad learning from the curriculum as disinfecting tablets between each class bubble was too time-consuming.

In addition to being quick, safe and easy to use, UV-C will not damage electronics as cleaning with traditional disinfection methods that use moisture or heat will. This characteristic of the technology makes it an ideal process for the University of Chichester’s professional standard audio studio used by creative course students and external clients.

Initially, the university struggled to find a way to ensure the delicate SSL mixing desk in the studio was safe to use by multiple people as cleaning it using disinfectant wipes or alcohol-based chemicals would cause damage. To overcome this barrier, the university has had Cleanroom by Uvisan, a series of ambient UV-C lamps controlled via an app, installed into the studio. The entire room and the equipment and air within it can now be deeply sanitised in less than ten minutes, preventing the spread of Covid-19, its variants and any other infectious illnesses.

As well as killing 99.9% of pathogens, UV-C disinfection is zero-waste, unlike wet wipes and chemicals, and will save money over time.


Fresh air and good ventilation have been highlighted to significantly reduce the risk of Covid spreading. Back in September 2020, Germany’s Angela Merkel said that opening windows and ventilating rooms could be one of the cheapest and most effective ways to contain the spread of coronavirus. ‘Lüften’, or airing rooms, became part of the country’s government guidelines and was adopted by the UK and other countries shortly after.

Educational facilities should prioritise ventilation and ensure that windows are kept open whenever possible. During the winter months or in spaces without windows, schools, colleges and universities should consider installing air purifiers to remediate airborne pathogens and constantly circulate fresh, sanitary air.

Encourage better personal hygiene practices

Educational facilities managers should reduce the risk of students spreading illnesses due to poor personal hygiene practices by highlighting the importance of good practices even beyond the pandemic. This is especially important for primary schools with younger children.

Classrooms should continue to be stocked with hand sanitiser and wipes or disinfectant spray to clean down desks after use. Increased signage reminding students to properly wash their hands before and after eating and after using the bathroom to minimise the risk of disease transmission should also be put up.

It is likely that coronavirus will affect the population and educational settings forever, but thanks to infection control lessons learnt during the height of the pandemic, institutions can reduce infection risks in the future and put an end to disruptions to education. Bolstering disinfection processes with the support of specialist technology will not only support learning, but also offer assurance to staff, learners and parents that the facilities are safe and hygienic, improving the overall experience for everyone.

To find out more about Uvisan, its ambient Cleanroom solution, stand-alone UV-C cabinets and propriety UV-C technology, visit 

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