Teaching the Teachers How to Clean for Health

Earlier this year, the National Education Association (NEA) released a cleaning and disinfecting video series. The series includes five short, engaging videos designed to help educators, administrators and other support people learn more about cleaning for health. The topics range from the difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting, to choosing the right products, to handling them safely. NEA is a longtime HSC partner and we were proud to work with them on this series. We highly recommend bookmarking this video series for quick reference and sharing with your colleagues!

Schools Where Teachers and Children Thrive

NEA is a professional association and labor union committed to advancing the causes of public education in America. It represents public school teachers; education support professionals; faculty and staff at colleges and universities; and administrators. When educators get behind the green cleaning message, understand it and use their knowledge and expertise to support it, the school becomes a healthier place. That’s why our partnership with NEA is so important to us.

“NEA exists to make schools more healthy for the people who work in them,” says Jim Bender, NEA HIN (Health Information Network) executive director. “We want to enable healthy schools where children thrive. We do so through programs, information and partnerships.”

In addition to the video series, NEA HIN provides other green cleaning resources. They have a helpful web page on indoor air quality (IAQ) concerns, which includes indoor air quality training and lesson plans. NEA HIN also co-sponsors the EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools program, a nationwide initiative that helps schools assess, resolve, and prevent IAQ problems and reduce exposure to asthma triggers.

Wise Advice for New Programs

NEA and the people who work there bring a unique and realistic perspective to the green cleaning conversation. As the union rep for three million educators, they are tuned into the challenges that come with getting an entire school on board as well as how to maneuver red tape and make many people with differing points of view happy. This experience translates especially well to schools that are beginning their own green cleaning programs.

“A lot of times programs run into challenges because they come up with a good idea that works well in scientific research but when you try to take it out to scale, the staff naturally pushes back on it,” says Bender. That’s why Bender recommends forming a steering committee as one of the first steps when making any significant changes to your cleaning programs, and always including a representative from the union on that committee. “When you involve the union locals it takes time to get their engagement and get them to understand and agree, but once you do that you have a trusted relationship. Then you can make sure you have a program without any traps.”

Our downloadable PDF, Preparing Your School for a Green Cleaning Program, provides detailed information on how to form a steering committee as you get ready to make your school cleaning program greener and healthier. As you begin that process, NEA’s video series is the perfect tool for communicating with your school staff about the importance of cleaning for health. No matter what your role is in the school, your voice is important. And, as Bender says, “If green cleaning is something you really believe in, speak up.”