Helping You and the People Around You to Stay Healthy
Preventing the Spread of Infection in Schools
Everyday, children are exposed to a wide variety of germs at school. If children don't wash and dry their hands regularly while in school, their chances of becoming ill increase. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colds alone are responsible for an estimated 22 million lost school days a year (CDC 1999). In fact, many children have up to eight colds a year. Now add the presence of other contagious illnesses to the germ pool -- such as influenza, gastrointestinal tract infections, and skin infections -- and you'll see why school Hand Washing programs are so important.
"The easiest way to reduce the spread of germs is the simplest and most effective, and it's old, tried and true -- Hand Washing, using warm water, soap and friction."
Jane Tustin R.N., President of the National Association of School Nurses
The main obstacles that prevent proper Hand Washing in schools are lack of education, supervision, motivation, supplies and equipment. School administrators need to make Hand Washing a priority and schedule time for students to wash their hands throughout the day.
Implementing a Hand Washing program in your school not only reduces the rate of infection, but also lowers absenteeism. High absenteeism creates an economic trickle effect that keeps parents home from work to care for their sick children, increases costs for substitute teachers, creates a burden on teachers who must play "catch up" with the absent kids, and ultimately affects school funding - which is determined by measures of both attendance and performance.
Some ways to incorporate effective Hand Washing techniques into K-6 -- because lifelong habits are formed at an early age.
- Puppet shows.
- Games and puzzles.
- Coloring activities.
- Books and stories.
- Washing with finger paints (to teach basics).
- Lectures and demonstrations (for older students).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Vital and Health Statistics, Series 10, No. 200. 1999.