Ask the Expert: High-Performance Cleaning

Why Is Measurement Important?

Absenteeism among students and staff due to illness is staggering — kids miss 22 million schooldays a year due to the common cold and 38 million days due to influenza.

Teacher absences cost $25 billion annually, and the bill for substitute teachers in the U.S. is $4 billion each year.

Chronic absenteeism is a persistent problem and has a major impact on academic success. By improving cleaning practices and establishing a standard to measure cleanliness, student and staff health is protected, academic performance increases and schools help their bottom line.

Typical cleaning practices that rely on visual inspection are not effective in measuring cleanliness. Cold and flu viruses can live on surfaces anywhere from a few seconds to 48 hours, and some bacterial can live on surfaces for months. Germs abound on water fountains, cafeteria trays, water faucets, keyboards and toilet seats and are transmitted by touch.

The ISSA Clean Standard: K-12 helps schools objectively assess the effectiveness of their cleaning processes, contributing to the quality of the indoor environment.

Based on the philosophy of “Clean, Measure, Monitor” and an emphasis on high-performance cleaning, the standard focuses on:

  • The desired levels of cleanliness
  • Recommended monitoring and inspection procedures to measure effectiveness
  • How to use the measurement and inspection results to assess and improve cleaning processes and products.

The ultimate goal is to ensure that schools are in a condition that is clean, safe and healthy. More importantly, the ISSA Clean Standard calls for corrective actions in the event the school is not achieving the desired level of cleaning effectiveness. To learn more, go to

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Bill Balek is the director of legislative and environmental services at ISSA. He can be reached at or 800/225-4772.

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