Keeping Schools Safe During Flu Season

As we approach the cold winter months, cold and flu season begins to enter full swing. Influenza (flu) viruses spread throughout the year, but its transmission peaks between the months of December and March, according to data from Lloyds Pharmacy.

Common symptoms of the flu virus include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

One of the reasons ‘flu season’ occurs during the winter months is because the influenza virus is more stable in colder temperatures, having a robust transmission rate at 5°C, whilst having a highly inefficient transmission rate at 30°C .

According to the BBC, up to 5 million people catch the flu virus each season, and approximately 250,000 die from it. The virus is therefore highly dangerous, especially for those with weakened immune systems.

Flu season is a particularly challenging time of year for many trying to avoid and prevent the spread of the virus, especially as public health is at the forefront of our minds following the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus can spread quickly in crowds, making schools a hotspot for the flu virus to spread across families. For this reason, having appropriate health and safety measures in place at schools during the flu season is essential for safeguarding and minimising the spread.

In this article, Vanguard will explore the methods your school can adopt to help stop the spread of influenza this winter, and better protect your staff and students. We will explore how these measures will help keep your community safe, as well as how Vanguard Cleaning can assist you in maximising your school’s health and safety protections.


Why Does Flu Season Hit Schools So Hard?

Flu season tends to hit schools particularly hard, not least because they are environments where multiple people tend to be in close contact with one another. This close contact is ideal for the virus to spread directly from person to person via coughing and sneezing.  Young children may not always practice good hygiene, for example following correct handwashing techniques or covering their mouths and noses when they cough or sneeze. For this reason, the flu virus may spread easier amongst children.

On top of this, children’s immune systems are less developed compared to adults, which makes them more susceptible to infections like the flu. This means they are more likely to both catch and spread the virus on to other children their age. Playing together in shared areas can facilitate the transmission of the flu virus, as the virus can easily move from one child to another.

One unique challenge in schools is the potential for asymptomatic spread of the flu. Some individuals infected with the flu virus may not show symptoms (asymptomatic carriers) but can still spread the virus to others. In a school setting, this can lead to the virus circulating widely without parents and staff realising.

Influenza is particularly concerning for children, as children under the age of 5 have the highest hospitalisation rate. In 2022, 6,000 children under 5 were hospitalised in England and Wales due to the flu virus. This means that primary schools are particularly at risk over the flu season and should aim to implement safeguarding measures ahead of its peak.

To mitigate the impact of flu in schools, it is important to promote good hygiene practices, encourage flu vaccination, and implement effective cleaning strategies to help reduce the spread of the flu virus in school settings.

5 Key Ways To Safeguard Your School This Flu Season

Below, we have outlined 5 essential methods to help protect your staff and students this winter from the flu virus. Following these steps can help curb the spread of the virus through your school and local community, as well as other colds and viruses circulating this season.

1. Frequently Clean And Disinfect High Touch Surfaces

Although schools can promote and encourage good hand hygiene, it’s impossible to ensure this is followed correctly by each and every child. This is why frequent disinfecting of surfaces is important to curb the transmission of the flu virus, especially high-touch surfaces such as:

  • Door Handles,
  • Computer Keyboards,
  • Desks,
  • Hand Rails.

Identifying high touch points is a crucial step in preventing the transmission of the flu virus, so that you can mitigate the risk of surface contamination and transmission throughout your school.

According to, the flu virus can live for 24-48 hours on hard surfaces. As a result, frequent cleaning and disinfection is paramount to keep your school protected from a host of viruses, so that if the virus does enter your premises it is quickly removed and not allowed to spread throughout your community.

Furthermore, according to scientific studies, influenza viruses live longer on non-porous surfaces such as steel and plastic. This is particularly prominent for educational facilities, as plastic makes up a huge 90% of the toy industry, according to the Yale Environment Review. This makes school settings particularly vulnerable to the flu virus, as the materials are more likely to harbour these germs and viruses.

Hiring a professional cleaning company like Vanguard Cleaning is an effective way to ensure your surfaces are cleaned and disinfected not only frequently, but correctly. Our cleaning staff are trained with all the correct techniques and use industry-leading products to ensure that your school is left pristine.


2. Promote Regular Hand Washing And Hand Hygiene Across Your School

Hand hygiene in schools plays a critical role in preventing the spread of infections, including the flu virus.

Proper handwashing techniques are regularly emphasised following the COVID-19 outbreak. The government advises that people should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or two renditions of the ‘Happy Birthday’ song, for maximum effectiveness. Children should be encouraged to wash their hands particularly before meals, after using the restroom, and after coughing or sneezing.

In addition to handwashing, schools should provide hand sanitiser in high-traffic areas to further promote good hygiene. These efforts not only help reduce the transmission of the flu virus but also contributes to a healthier and more hygienic school environment.

A case-control study revealed that having soap or hand sanitiser available at sinks at schools and workplaces had a  protective effect of 85%, proving hand hygiene to be an effective measure against flu transmission.


3. Create A Routine Cleaning Schedule

Following a routine cleaning schedule is important for infection prevention. A thorough cleaning regimen reduces this risk by addressing all areas of your school, not just high-touch surfaces. Routine cleaning from a professional cleaning company helps maximise protection for your school, providing  a more comprehensive clean to cover multiple areas. A routine cleaning schedule curbs the transmission of bacteria and dirt before it begins to spread to other surfaces, serving as preventative maintenance for your school premises.

Although wiping high-touch surfaces can remove viruses from high contact areas, a routine clean helps maintain cleanliness throughout your school. This includes removing germs and dirt from floors, cleaning spillages, and removing dust and debris. Accumulated dust and debris can worsen allergies and respiratory issues, which can make children feel more unwell during the flu season.

With Vanguard, you can create a customised cleaning schedule for your school. This means that you can create a bespoke cleaning regimen for your school, however frequently you require. With the increased health risks during flu season, for example, you may want your school to receive cleaning services more frequently to serve as added protection against the virus. With our industry-leading solutions, Vanguard can help safeguard your school with an all-encompassing regular cleaning service.

Daily cleaning services with Vanguard are an effective way to curb virus transmission, helping to protect the wellbeing of all those in your school. On top of this, it can help prevent staff and student absences, so your students can get the most out of their education.


4. Encourage Staff And Students To Get Their Flu Vaccination

Under the NHS, the flu vaccine is available to many children and adults. The nasal spray flu vaccine is freely available to:

  • All primary school children
  • Some secondary school children
  • Children between the age of 2 and 17 with certain long-term health conditions.

The flu vaccine is available for free on the NHS to:

  • Those aged 65 or over,
  • Certain health conditions (e.g., asthma, liver disease),
  • Those who are pregnant.

If you are not eligible for a free flu jab under the NHS, you can pay for it at many pharmacies and private healthcare providers in the UK.

Getting the flu jab is a proven way to reduce your chance of catching the flu virus.  Last year, the vaccine cut the risk of being hospitalised by 66% in adults and 33% in adults with underlying health conditions.

In 2022, 10,000 children were hospitalised due to the flu virus, many of which could have been prevented with the vaccine. As the nasal spray vaccine is painless and free for primary school children, it should be encouraged whenever possible.

Staff should also be encouraged to get the vaccine if they are in one of the outlined groups, which you can find more information about on the government website.


5. Conduct A Deep Clean Throughout Your School

A deep clean can remove germs and bacteria lingering in your school and remove the buildup of dirt from hard-to-reach and out-of-sight areas. A deep clean provides more in-depth sanitation, so that your school is left thoroughly cleansed and free from grime. An enhanced cleaning service sets your school in good stead for the flu season or can be used following an outbreak to ensure surface transmission is minimised in your school.

As part of our cleaning packages, Vanguard Cleaning offers deep and enhanced cleaning services for schools. Our specialist approach ensures your school is provided with a complete, professional clean that protects your school. We are trained in fogging (fumigating areas to decontaminate them), which can be used if your school does experience infections. We can provide this service to your school this flu season, if necessary.


Deep cleaning services with Vanguard will also involve:

  • Disinfecting and scrubbing hard flooring, including linoleum and tiles
  • Scrubbing and shampooing carpets
  • Cleaning behind radiators and other fixed features of your property
  • Dusting on top of high places, such as curtain poles and door frames
  • Cleaning curtains, blinds and other window coverings
  • Full disinfection of all door handles, internal and external doors, and buttons


For the most optimal cleaning solution that minimises the spread of viruses and bacteria, opt for a professional deep cleaning service this winter.


Staying Safe: School Cleaning Services From Vanguard

Vanguard’s school and education cleaning is an effective way to help keep your school safe this winter flu season. All of our school cleaners are DBS checked and follow the latest health and safety protocols, as well as having undergone our rigorous training programme. This training is overseen by senior management and has accreditation from The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc), a hallmark of our excellence and integrity.

Our cleaning schedules and audits are completely customisable, so you can choose how often and what times you’d like your school cleaned. For example, over the flu season you may like to have more frequent cleaning to combat transmission.

Our school cleaning includes all the regular duties you’d expect, delivered to an exception standard:

  • Disinfecting desks
  • Dusting
  • Vacuuming
  • Mopping
  • Trash removal

Our services are available to all locations across England, Scotland, and Wales. Plus, our two decades of experience means that choosing Vanguard for your cleaning solutions means choosing a reliable, professional, and cost-effective service.

For a free, no-obligation quote, contact our team of professionals today.