School bathrooms

To those thinking of letting their children return to school - or any other business really - check out the bathrooms first.

It’s disappointing that some schools and businesses still have those old fashioned taps that have to be turned off by hand, thus contaminating those hands that have just been washed.

It doesn’t matter how many times a small child sings Happy Birthday. They won’t necessarily know that they shouldn’t then turn off the tap by hand.

It’s not just schools of course. It’s worrying how many restaurants still have these taps. Ewww. As do theatres. My last theatre trip - when the world was already aware of Coronavirus and Chinatown deserted - it was a juggling act in the restroom. No handbag hooks on the loo door, no lids on the loos so that flushing sent unpleasantness everywhere, no soap in the soap dispenser, aged air dryer sending germs flying, and of course ancient and visibly dirty turn on and off by hand taps.

But schools are publicly funded and sorting their bathrooms out before reopening is a must if they’re not to spread the virus.

I urge all parents just to check your child’s school restroom is up to spec.


You make an excellent point. The SARS pandemic lade bare the danger of transmission from touch with public bathrooms an area of concern. Many countries affected made immediate changes to design requirement for these facilities and legislated through building regulations/codes, though the benefits were seen most in new build construction. On my many trips home to Canada the most notable change were the removal of doors to bathroom facilities choosing to have zig zag entrances to protect modesty.

I’m amazed that many other countries, like the UK did not follow suit. Hopefully this will be an outcome in the future of this pandemic.


Speaking from experience in this sector. All taps are of the non concussive type they can be operated with either hand or arm.

Due to safe guarding reasons, doors are fitted to children’s WCs

And due to the risk of infection etc, I would be extremely surprised if parents are allowed in the buildings at all.


That’s an interesting perspective. Closed doors on bathrooms are conducive to bullying in schools. Removing doors to entrances has been seen to reduce these occurrences.

Just to be clear, this is simply not removing the door but creating an entrance with no door but configured with walls to protect modesty and prying eyes.

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Out of curiosity, how do you know if a cubicle is occupied if there’s no door?

I thought I might not have been as clear as I wanted. I’m speaking of the entrances to the bathroom. Not the cubicles. There are places I guess where people want some privacy.


We didn’t have bathrooms at my school. Just lavatories.


I understand what Starman means. Cubicles have individual doors but there’s no door at the entrance to the toilets. The entrance is designed as a corridor with at least one turn in it. That way people can’t look in from the main thoroughfare. The toilets at the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras are like this, and also in some airports, which makes it easier to wheel a suitcase into. It only works if there’s enough space, and wouldn’t be possible to retrofit into the design of most existing toilets.

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You’ll have to forgive this Canadian expat. 30+ years here and I haven’t completely adopted the lingo. Particularly difficult sometimes is remembering which vernacular to use. I’ve never been able to rationalize ground beef and mince.

Thank you for explaining this better than I did. And I take your point. As I mentioned this policy worked best with new builds. But there should be a requirement to look at existing lavatories to see if it is possible.

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A couple of nights back the BBC News had a report on children returning to primary schools. There were shots of the children washing their hands in a school restroom. The taps were of the cheap contract style with a plastic knob on top that you had to turn on and off by hand. Even worse than the style in St Martin’s Theatre, where at least you can turn them with a strong knuckle.

So clearly not all school hand washing facilities have non concussive taps (a phrase new to me, I could only think of saying they need to turn off “hands free” :wink:).

Automatic taps would be fantastic as well as being hygienic, it would also stop the flooding that can happen when tissues or paper towels, are left in them blocking the plug hole with a tap left on.
Would also be interesting to know if all kids & adult toilets at schools have hot/warm water working in them. Or warm water if they have sinks in classrooms.
Regards to main doors being replaced. I’m not sure as the smell that ends up coming from them. Even with extensive cleaning is not pleasant, due to hundreds of kids using them daily. Plus probably a fire safety regulation as most have the door closures fitted to them.

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European restaurants often have foot operated taps in their toilets, never understood why we didn’t. Though the first time I encountered one I was looking for ages how to turn it on, also less to go wrong than a self closing tap, also less water waste, you take your foot off - the water stops.

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Having spent many years teaching in early years and ks1 classes, I don’t think taps is the main issue. Unless there is an adult stood at the door supervising, half of children will forget to flush, won’t wipe properly, then will open cubicle doors with hands potentially with wee and poo on them, then go straight back to class or the playground without washing, and proceed to use school resources and hold hands with friends.
Staff will never be able to watch all children all the time.


I was going to express the same sentiments as you! I was also a teaching assistant for many years & found the older the child the less they wanted to wash their hands, especially when lining them up for lunch!
Younger children (especially nursery) are hard to get out of the bathrooms as thru just want to play with the water!!
My daughter who is a manager of a big private nursery has been out today stocking up on cleaning products for the nursery opening on the 1st June.

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