Classrooms can be gross. And as children once again rush into classrooms all across the nation, it is important to keep them healthy and focused by reducing their exposure to germs and harmful bacteria. Preschool children are especially at risk due to their developing immune systems and a tendency to put items in their mouths. But how do you keep germs out of the classroom?
Parentology reached out to Isabel Valdez, a physician assistant and instructor of general internal medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
1. Encourage Frequent Handwashing
According to an article by the Baylor College of Medicine that featured advice from Valdez, the number one way to prevent the spread of illnesses in the classroom is to encourage children to wash their hands frequently. They should also use hand sanitizer. However, this can dry out the hands over time, which can look unsightly and feel uncomfortable.
To combat this, Valdez says, “Using soaps or sanitizers that have emollients or moisturizers can help prevent dry hands. Alternatively, apply hand moisturizers a few times a day to clean dry hands … [and] help replenish the skin.”
2. Get Creative About Hygiene
Many teachers and parents run into a common issue: how they can get their students or kids to comply with good hygiene practices. Youngsters often view it as one of the most boring topics on earth.
“Teachers can engage students in proper handwashing by singing a song such as the ABCs to encourage them to wash their hands long enough to clean thoroughly,” Valdez suggests. “Small rewards such as using a fun colored or scented sanitizer may encourage young children to participate … so long as allergies are not a concern.”
3. Promote Vaccinations to Reduce Risks
The CDC recommends that parents begin vaccinating children as soon as possible. By doing so, they can protect them against up to 14 serious illnesses before they even make it to age 2. In spite of this, many parents choose not to vaccinate their children.
NPR reports that this anti-vaccine campaign has led to one of the largest measle outbreaks in America in 25 years. Valdez recommends promoting vaccination by using materials provided by the CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, the local health department or a combination of all of the above. Stopping the spread of medical misinformation is essential to children’s health.
4. Keep Children at Home When Sick
Want to know how to keep germs out of the classroom? This is probably the number-one method.
There are many reasons sick students end up at school even when they are not well. Kids may not want to miss out on seeing friends and learning. Other times, parents may not have anyone to stay with a child at home on short notice. However, sending them to school puts other children at risk.
“Children should be kept at home while they are having fevers and can return to school after being fever-free for at least 24 hours,” Valdez tells Parentology. “Try to get them in to see their doctors if the symptoms persist or grow worrisome. If your child was given antibiotics, they can return to school after being on treatment for at least one full day.”
Germs are an inescapable part of sharing spaces, especially with children. However, if parents, teachers, and students join forces, they can create a cleaner and safer environment for youngsters to learn and grow.
How to Keep Germs Out of the Classroom — Sources
Baylor College of Medicine: How To Keep Germs Out Of Classrooms
Isabel Valdez, MPAS, PA-C, CPAAPA, Baylor College of Medicine
CDC: Vaccinate Your Baby for Best Protection
NPR: Why Aren’t Parents Getting Their Children Vaccinated?