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Schools: Hygiene

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL2878, tabled on 4 October 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government, following reports of people drinking alcohol-based hand sanitiser, what plans they have to withdraw those products from schools and replace them with effective alternatives.

Answered on

18 October 2021

The department has developed extensive guidance for all settings across the education, childcare and children’s social care sectors on how to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, including a range of protective and control measures for preventing the spread of the virus. There is information to support settings on their responsibilities that advises to clean their hands thoroughly, and more often than usual, as well as good basic hygiene, and the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach, which advises individuals to clean their hands with soap and water or use sanitiser: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/schools-covid-19-operational-guidance#control-measures.

Ultimately, schools remain responsible for the products that they require and, as with other cleaning products, schools can access hand sanitiser through their existing supply chains. There are many alcohol- and non-alcohol-based hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants on the UK market and schools should base the use of any of these products on their own risk assessment, alongside existing guidance.

Our guidance signposts settings to the e-Bug COVID-19 website which contains free resources for settings, including materials to encourage good hand and respiratory hygiene. This information can be found at the following link: https://e-bug.eu/eng_home.aspx?cc=eng&ss=1&t=Information%20about%20the%20Coronavirus.

All education, childcare and children’s social care settings should follow the UK Health Security Agency, formally known as Public Health England, guidance on cleaning for non-healthcare settings outside of the home. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings.

Hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants are biocidal products. They are regulated by the Health and Safety Executive. The Health and Safety Executive publishes a list of authorised biocidal products, including hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants: https://www.hse.gov.uk/biocides/uk-authorised-biocidal-products.htm.

The Cabinet Office and the Department for Health and Social Care published product specifications and standards associated with personal protective equipment at the following link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/927550/Essential_technical_specifications_PPE_and_medical_devices-v0.3_Oct2020_accessible.pdf.