Hygiene in nursery schools
Legal requirements for childcare facilities
Hygiene in nursery schools is an important issue, and not just since the coronavirus pandemic. Places where lots of children from different households gather every day inevitably pose a greater risk of illness – for children, carers and parents. Children’s immune systems are generally not yet fully developed and infections can spread quickly. To protect the health of both children and carers, special hygiene rules apply. There are set out in two sets of statutory regulations:
- Protection against Infection Act (ISFG): The German Protection against Infection Act requires nursery schools and other childcare facilities such as schools to draw up a hygiene plan and a cleaning plan. Nursery school managers are also responsible for ensuring the implementation of the hygiene plans. In the event of an infection, nursery schools must inform parents and the health authorities.
- Biological Agents Ordinance (BioStoffV)/Technical Rules for Biological Agents (TRBA) 250:
This Ordinance is designed to protect the health of employees whose work brings them into contact with biological agents presenting a potential risk. Basic hygiene, including hand hygiene and surface hygiene, must be observed in such settings. A higher level of protection applies for staff exposed to a greater risk of infection – for example, changing nappies. Additional precautions must be taken – for example, correct disposal of biological agents and wearing of personal protective equipment.
Creating a hygiene and cleaning plan
§ 36 of the German Protection against Infection Act (IfSG) sets out the requirement for hygiene plans in nursery schools and child daycare centres – but does not specify the details. The aim should be to prevent infectious diseases and protect health. An educational approach is applied: The hygiene concept in nursery schools and child daycare centres is also designed to teach children everyday basic hygiene rules.
The hygiene plan in nurseries and similar facilities must cover the following areas (non-exhaustive list):
- Corridors and group rooms
- Sanitary areas and toilets
- Dormitories, sports areas and play rooms
- Crawling and nappy changing areas
- Sick bays or first aid rooms
- Kitchens and dining areas
Hygiene measures in nursery schools
The Hygiene Ordinance for Nursery Schools and Child Daycare Centres sets out a range of measures. For example, food hygiene rules must be followed at meal times and for snacks. Stricter protective measures apply for cases of gastrointestinal illness, hand, foot and mouth disease, head lice or scabies.
In addition to a hygiene plan, a cleaning plan must also be drawn up. This plan must specify cleaning areas, intervals and measures. For example, floors should be mopped and carpets vacuum-cleaned daily where possible. Special attention must be paid to nappy changing areas: These must always be thoroughly disinfected after use. Disposable gloves should be worn and nappies disposed of in sealed bags.
Hand hygiene in nursery schools
Appropriate hand hygiene is also covered in hygiene procedures in nursery schools. Young children in particular touch everything with their hands. Around 80 per cent of infections are transferred through hand contact. The Robert Koch Institute has issued clear guidelines for hand hygiene. The recommendations include sanitising hands after contact with infectious children, changing nappies, dressing wounds, cleaning and before preparing food. Regular hand washing is important too. Children need to learn the correct technique for washing hands. Proper care makes hands more resistant to germs and skin more tolerant to disinfectant products.
Surface hygiene in nursery schools
As well as through hand contact, infectious agents are also transferred through contact surfaces. Surface hygiene is therefore another important focus in nursery schools. Specific cleaning and disinfection intervals are prescribed for different areas. Visible dirt is removed, disinfection can then eliminate up to 99.99 per cent of all pathogens. Ensuring correct disinfection of surfaces is important too.
The Robert Koch Institute recommends the rub-wipe technique: A cloth soaked in disinfectant is wiped over surfaces with light pressure until the entire surface is damp. The disinfectant must then be left to work for the time recommended by the manufacturer. For hygiene reasons, wipe disinfecting should always be favoured over spraying as this avoids any gaps in coverage.
Checklist – areas to be cleaned every day
Particularly sensitive areas in nursery schools must be cleaned daily and should be considered in the cleaning plan. These include:
- Floors Tables Carpets Sanitary fittings Door handles Washbasins Potties Tea towels and cleaning cloths Nappy changing area Kitchen (after use)
Comprehensive information on cleaning measures, hand hygiene and surface hygiene is available on the website of the Robert Koch Institute.