It's the height of cold and flu season, and that means trouble for students. At school, belongings are constantly being shared. Kids aren't washing their hands. Germs are being shared and spread, and that spells trouble for everyone. To help prevent the spread of germs and keep kids from getting sick this winter, teachers should consider the following action steps.
Encourage Germ Prevention in School Restrooms
One of the best breeding grounds for germs is in bathrooms, and young children aren't always the best at avoiding situations that can easily get them sick. The solution? Teachers of younger kids should go over the rules of bathroom germ prevention on a regular basis, especially during the winter months when the spread of illness is more prevalent. First, provide hooks in the bathroom where backpacks and jackets can be hung up rather than being brought into stalls. Teach students to use the hooks, and teach them to thoroughly wash their hands each and every time they use the restroom.
Avoid Tools Touched by the Entire Class
From community pencil sharpeners to shared art supplies, try to avoid classroom activities that involve the whole class touching the same items during peak cold and flu season. Although this may be unavoidable, cutting down on the number of times students need to touch one another will decrease the chances that germs have to spread from one child to the next. In addition to cutting down on these activities, be sure to teach students germ etiquette, including the idea that they should avoid touching one another and sharing classroom materials whenever possible during this time of year.
Provide Hand Sanitizer
Be sure to provide hand sanitizer in your classroom and encourage students to use it periodically, though not too often. A hand sanitizer station can be placed at the front of the class if you'd like to monitor how often your students are using it, or you may choose to leave a couple of bottles around the classroom for students to use discretely without interrupting class.
Have Students Help Clean
Students will learn the value of cleaning up after themselves and preventing the spread of germs if you ask them to wipe down their desks once a day. While this is most important to do during cold and flu season, it doesn't hurt to have them do it every day throughout the school year just to keep the classroom clean.
What do you do to fight germs in your school? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.