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Stopping Germs in the Classroom continued...

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.”

Stopping Germs in the Bathroom

One conspicuously dirty place in any school is the restroom. Although some adults work hard to minimize their contact with any surface in the restroom, using paper towels to turn on taps or press the lever to flush a toilet, parents have to help kids think that way. Some schools have installed restroom doors that swing open and shut, allowing students to use a shoulder, elbow or hip to enter the bathroom so they don’t have to touch the door with their hands.

With so many sinks, washing hands isn’t a problem. The question is, how long should kids keep their hands in soap and water? Rains says she instructs kids to sing the Happy Birthday song twice while washing their hands. The CDC concurs. That's about 20 seconds, the ideal length for a hand-washing session.

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