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Back to School Time Means Back to Germs Time

Touch-free dispensers are helping keep America's kids healthier in school.

The alarm clock explodes, the school bell rings and families across the USA are wondering where summer went.

It’s back to school time across the country, or as germs call it, Christmas time.

Sniffles, sneezes and coughs – the soundtrack of America’s return to the classroom – can be heard, felt and transmitted from coast to coast. After a summer of rather limited close quarter exposure to humans, germs and bacteria eagerly await the opening of school doors. From doorknobs and handles to water fountains and cafeterias, germs are lying in wait nearly everywhere for America’s unsuspecting schoolkids.

And once germs and bacteria get a hold of us, they settle in.

“All of us are colonized in lots of places by bacteria,” said Joshua Wolf, MD, of St. Jude Infectious Diseases.

Thankfully, kids can fight back and protect themselves against germ school insurgencies by practicing good hygiene practices.

And, as usual, the smart plan to keeping kids in the classroom and free from the misery of colds and flu starts with hand-washing. As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states “keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.”

School nurses know this lesson by heart. A CDC school nurses poll asked them what the most important thing they can do to keep students healthy during the school year. A whopping 73 percent of nurses surveyed said teachers should encourage proper hygiene and hand washing, and keep desks and classrooms clean.

But keeping kids free of the harmful exposure and effects of contagious germs and bacterias is a challenge. Unlike Superman, kids don’t have X-Ray vision and can’t see germs. So reminding kids that there’s a good reason to wash up after work or play can be a challenge for parents and educators. And all influential lessons on germs start at home.

So how can parents and teachers help young students understand the unhealthy power and danger of germs? By starting with an easy to understand class in Germs 101:

  1. Explain The Connection Between Germs and Illness: If kids understand that germs can make them feel sick and cause them to miss their favorite activities, and make their friends and family sick, they will be more likely to take precautions.
  2. The Germ Transfer Test: Parents can effectively demonstrate to kids how easily germs can spread from one person to another through a simple demonstration. Before the first day of school, parents can add some glitter to hand sanitizer, have one child use it, and then have everyone shake hands with everyone else. In no time, everybody will have glittery hands and kids will have telling proof of how easily germs spread.
  3. Germs, Germs Everywhere: Teachers can drill home the lesson of how germs can spread to everything they touch by reminding their students that they are everywhere, from shared pencils, markers, books to community locations like pencil sharpeners, sinks, carpets and nap mats.
  4. Hand-washing Kills Germs: Hand-washing with soap and water has super germ-killing powers that no other force on Earth possesses. This undeniable germ fact is wildly popular with superhero-loving kids.

Because students who know how to stop germs dead in their tracks are superheroes themselves, saving themselves and classmates from sickness, missed class time and misery.

And parents and teachers are the superheroes who can help America’s school children put dangerous germs and bacteria on ice.

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