UPDATED: March 12, 2020
As the school bell rings each morning, parents and teachers are busy ensuring that students have a year full of happy, healthy days in schools everywhere! Promoting safety, health, and wellness in the classroom are sure-fire ways to ensure that students stay healthy, strong, and ready to learn all year long.
In light of recent coronavirus concerns, there are several steps that parents and teachers can take to help keep healthy practices at the forefront and germs at bay throughout the school year and beyond.
Keep Germs from Sprouting up in Your Classroom
During the school year, classrooms can become breeding grounds for millions of tiny bacteria, causing quite the stir as sniffles and sneezes are constantly whirring in the background. Healthy classrooms promote healthy minds, and promoting healthful practices every day will help keep kids in the classroom and learning at the head of the class.
Promote Practices for Good Health and Hygiene
Establishing healthful habits requires repetition. Remind students every day to do their part to keep germs away. A great place to start is by promoting healthy restroom practices. Proper hand washing is essential for preventing the spread of germs and disease.
While eye-catching hand washing signs will easily remind older children to properly wash their hands, teach the little ones to use lots of soap and water and scrub hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds before rinsing. You can customize a hand washing sign with a simple message, give a step-by-step tutorial, or warn of the danger of spreading germs.
Set up hand sanitizing stations around your classroom for an easy way to prevent the spread of bothersome germs. With just a small squeeze of sanitizer before playtime or meals, after recess, or anytime throughout the day, this practice will help keep those germs from invading your classroom. Be sure to put a station at the classroom door, where students can sanitize every time they come or go.
Creating a classroom cleanup routine will encourage everyone to be mindful of daily responsibilities while helping to keep germs away. Have your “classroom cleanup crew” focus on different areas each day, using disinfecting wipes with an alcohol content of at least 60% or 70% (they’re handy, neat, and disposable) to regularly wipe down everything including desks, doorknobs, light switches, handles, computers and keyboards, bathroom sinks, lunch tables, toys, and other surfaces commonly touched throughout the day. Anything little hands touch or any materials that are shared among students should be on the list.
Encourage Personal Space to Keep Germs at Bay
With any contagious disease, including colds, the flu, and the novel coronavirus, establishing personal space is a must, and in classrooms full of children who love to play together and are often in close proximity to one another throughout the day, creating physical boundaries are a must.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend keeping a distance of six feet from one another to avoid the spread of contagious germs and bacteria. In addition, teach children to cough or sneeze into a tissue that can be immediately thrown away, or into the elbows of their sleeves.
Encourage children to refrain from touching their faces, especially eyes, nose, and mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
Encouraging mindful behaviors and healthy habits in school will help keep germs out of your classroom and students filing in, eager to learn, play and grow all year long!
All That Glitters – Germs Are Everywhere
First things first! Help children to “see” how germs travel by having students participate in a “sparkling” science experiment that demonstrates the importance of keeping germs at bay. Begin by having each student rub a thin layer of lotion on his or her hands. Next, sprinkle some glitter on each student’s hands, using one color for half the class and another color for the remaining students.
Have the children go around the classroom, shaking hands, opening doors and closets, picking up books, and moving about as usual. After a few minutes, have everyone look at their hands and see that the “glitter germs” have easily spread throughout the class. Finally, have everyone wash their hands with water only, demonstrating that the germs are still there. Then, bring on the soap suds and watch the germs wash down the drain!