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Stopping Germs in the Classroom

So many classroom activities involve hand-to-hand contact: things like passing papers back down the row, or sharing pencils, pens, scissors and other tools. But it’s not touching things that belong to other kids that’s the problem, it’s what kids do after they touch an item. “The important part is they’re not putting their hands in their mouth and in their nose,” Delack says. That’s how germs have a chance to enter the body and that’s really how you get sick.

To counteract bacteria, many teachers purchase bulk supplies of hand sanitizer and tissues, then make them available to students throughout the year. Some schools ask each student to bring a box of tissues and a bottle of hand sanitizer and create the year’s supply that way. The key for parents is to remind kids to go get a tissue from the box or use the hand sanitizer when they need to.

Dawn Rains, a daycare and kindergarten teacher for more than 20 years in Alabama, says no matter what age kids are, some rules remain the same. She advocates the use of hand sanitizer after going outside and before lunch. She also keeps a box of tissues on the desk and “when I see a hand go near a nose, I give the child a tissue and sanitize hands. If a finger goes in a mouth, I sanitize their hands.”

Another tip for keeping bacteria and viruses off those hands: teach children to sneeze or cough into the crook of their elbow, not into their hands.

Stopping Germs in the Lunchroom

Delack says to make sure kids wash or sanitize their hands, “before they eat, before they’re picking up food and putting it in their mouths, because that’s certainly a great way to have germs enter the body. [And] we don’t want them to share.”

Most importantly, Delack tells WebMD, is to officially debunk the five second rule often applied to food, gum, utensils or, in the school nurse’s office, medication that falls to the floor. “There is no five second rule. If it falls on the floor, throw it away.”

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