SINGAPORE - By the end of March, all schools here will have a cleaning regimen in place where they will have to adhere to a new hygiene checklist as part of the SG Clean scheme.
To get the SG Clean certification, the schools must ensure that hand washing and toilet flushing facilities are functioning well, toilets are cleaned and disinfected twice a day, and a pest management programme is in place, among other things.
Over 95 per cent of schools and institutes of higher learning have received the certification so far, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Friday (March 13).
Schools will be audited by the NEA to ensure the standards are maintained.
On Friday morning, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower Low Yen Ling visited Kent Ridge Secondary School in West Coast Road.
They observed some of the hygiene practices there, such as a cleaner disinfecting the toilets as well as students wiping their tables and chairs in the classrooms.
Mr Masagos said: "As I moved around the school, I saw that the students knew what they're doing - not only how to do it, but also why they were doing it.
"So this is a good way for us to inculcate good values in our children... We will make sure that this will become our first line of defence in the fight against Covid-19."
Added Ms Low: "SG Clean is a whole-of-nation effort to raise the standard of cleanliness across Singapore.
"We will continue to upkeep the stringent level of standards, cleanliness and public hygiene," she said, noting that schools will be audited regularly to ensure standards are maintained for the safety of students and staff.
The SG Clean scheme was launched on Feb 16 to raise cleanliness and safeguard public health amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Since then, over 5,000 premises have received the SG Clean certification that shows they have met new hygiene standards, said the NEA.
These premises include hawker centres, food stalls, coffee shops, hotels and food and retail businesses in malls and schools.
The NEA said previously that the quality mark will be progressively rolled out in various sectors with high human traffic, including pre-schools, schools, hotels, tourist attractions and shopping malls.
The hygiene checklist differs from sector to sector.
For example, hawker stallholders have to set up processes to ensure that food preparation areas and equipment are sanitised, waste is handled properly and systems are in place to monitor staff health.
The NEA said it hopes these hygiene practices will continue even after the coronavirus outbreak, as they can also help to reduce the spread of other public diseases such as dengue.
"For instance, not littering and maintaining clean premises will reduce breeding habitats for dengue-transmitting Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are able to breed in bodies of stagnant water as small as a 20-cent coin," the agency said.
The NEA on Friday also released new dengue-related statistics. Over the last three years, over 3,000 mosquito breeding habitats were linked to receptacles, such as plastic containers and empty drink cans, found at public areas.
About 65 per cent of these receptacles had been discarded as litter by people.
Said Mr Masagos: "SG Clean and our fight against dengue go hand in hand, as we keep our environment litter-free and remove stagnant water.
"Through collective action by all stakeholders, we can contribute towards safeguarding public health and making Singapore a cleaner and safer environment for our families and those around us."