Unfortunately schools are like breeding grounds for germs and sickness including the flu. There are, however, ways that teachers can help prevent the spread of the flu. The first step is actually quite simple; talk to your students. Knowledge truly is power. When I was in school, we were given pamphlets or just papers with information on what the flu was and the traditional ‘wash your hands’ talk. Of course, most of us still got sick because, frankly, washing hands after using the rest room and before eating just isn’t enough. There are other steps that can be taken in order to help prevent the spread of the flu.
Wash Your Hands
Yes, I know this was previously mentioned but I find it worth mentioning again. It is important to stress to students how important washing their hands is. It would also help if you talked about how to properly wash your hands. Make sure that they know that ‘rinsing your hands’ under cold water is not good enough. A proper washing consists of fairly warm water and soap, along with rubbing your hands together to create a sort of lather. Don’t forget to mention that it’s not just the palms that need to be cleaned, but also the back of the hands and fingers. It also doesn’t hurt to use a paper towel to open the bathroom door when leaving.
Cover Your Mouth When Sneezing or Coughing
I don’t think this can be stressed enough. Some people think covering your mouth simply means coughing or sneezing into your hands – it does not. It is recommended that you cough into the inside of your arm, or the inside of your elbow. Of course, it would be better to use a tissue or paper towel, so consider providing these in your classroom.
Provide Hand Sanitizer
I would suggest for younger students that you provide hand sanitizer. Younger students may not quite grasp the whole ‘wash your hands’ deal. Providing hand sanitizer and prompting children to use it when they enter or exit the classroom will probably reduce the chances of virtually everyone getting sick. In my opinion, the few dollars that you spend on buying a bottle for your classroom is plenty worth the reduction in germs.
Clean Desks and Door Knobs
I once had a teacher who was absolutely determined on keeping everyone healthy. In between classes she would wipe down the desks and door knobs with Lysol Disinfectant Wipes and she would also spray Lysol around the classroom. Consider extending this practice to anything that students regularly touch including keyboards and computer mice. If you have much younger students where ‘toys’ are still incorporated in learning, contemplate soaking toys in a 10-1 water to bleach solution. After soaking, simply rinse with water.
Don’t Share Drinks or Food
Some things are simply out of a teacher’s control like when students go to lunch. It is very important to stress to students that sharing food and drinks spreads germs. Students will probably think to themselves that they are only sharing with one friend. In this case, talk about the ‘chain’ of sharing drinks. If student A shares water with student B, and student B shares a drink with student C, then student C has basically shared drinks with students A and B. Of course, it would be more helpful if you used a physical demonstration using your actual students, possibly putting them into groups to help demonstrate how germs are passed through friends.