A few years back, I was speaking to a first-year teacher. His nose was swollen pink, and his watery eyes hid behind restless bags. To put it simple, he looked miserable. I asked how his new job was going, and he cracked a smile and immediately began coughing. I don’t know if that was the answer he wanted to give me, but it was the answer I got. Kids are like giant germs that touch everyone and everything. Don’t get me wrong: They are darn cute and cuddly. They give you hugs and adorable homemade notes, and then when you smile with appreciation, they sneeze in your face. It happens, but you can’t lock yourself away in hiding. With hundreds of students roaming the halls, it is quite the challenge to overcome germs. While you can’t eliminate germs for good, teachers, parents, and janitors can all work together to disinfect and clean schools to prevent the flu from spreading rapidly.
Hand Sanitizer in Every Classroom
Hand sanitizer was a brilliant invention! It makes washing hands easy and convenient even for the laziest person. My wife keeps a travel-size sanitizer in her purse, and we have one in each of our cars and in our house. It helps keep the germs away and makes it easy to sanitize our hands after we spend the day around town and before we eat. Having a couple of bottles near the classroom door will remind students to put some on before they start their day. Teachers can have one on their desk so they continually stop germs from making them sick. The most common way to get sick is through the mouth, so keeping your hands clean will eliminate almost all nasty flu bugs.
Teach Washing Hands
Many younger kids forget why it is so important to wash their hands throughout the day. Many rinse their hands in the water after using the bathroom, but they completely forget to use soap. Yuck! Having a simple chart that lists the washing steps and posting it near all sinks is one way to remind kids how to wash their hands. It also helps teachers remember to wash them for more than a quick rinse and lather.
Wipe Down the Room
Janitors are key to a clean school. There is almost always one on duty during the day and another one or two after school is out. Janitors keep the garbage emptied, the toilets scrubbed, surfaces cleaned, and the dust away. Germs usually spread by touching a dirty item and then rubbing the eyes or wiping the mouth. Two of the most popular germy items in a school are doorknobs and drinking fountains. They can get touched hundreds of times throughout the day. Janitors can be a huge asset to preventing the spread of the flu by wiping the door knobs and other contact areas in every classroom. Wiping down and sanitizing drinking fountains regularly will keep them clean and keep germs from spreading.
Have Tissues Ready
The other day, I watched a young woman wipe her nose repeatedly with her fingers. It made me cringe and maybe even gag a little. Just as her nose would start to run, her hand would shoot up to her face and wipe it away. It. Was. Disgusting. I tried not to watch, but I couldn’t stop staring. Tissues are the best, and only, place students should wipe their face at school. If their noses begin to run and no tissues are in sight, either snot is going to run down their face or they are going to wipe it with their hands or arms. Keeping tissues readily available cuts back on the germs covering the hands.
The flu season can be rough, but we can protect our children from the flu by educating students, cleaning and sanitizing contact areas, and washing our hands regularly.