“Schools are germ candy stores.” – Dr. Harley Rotbart, author of “Germ Proof Your Kids.”
They hide in plain sights on keyboards, on desks, in the cold air on playgrounds, on the water fountain in the hallway and even on the covers of books in the library.
As parents and teachers of sick children know all too well, germs are everywhere during flu season.
Snow storms are more annoying than the contagious germs and bacteria that force America’s schoolchildren to miss more than 189 million school days each year (thehealthyschoolproject.com). According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average American school child gets eight to 12 colds or cases of the flu each school year.
But by fighting germs with their kryptonite – hand sanitizers – where they lie, we can help kids keep the flu at bay. Because, as Brian Sansoni, vice president for communications for the American Cleaning Institute says, soap and water alone are not enough to win the fight against germs during cold and flu season.
“Using soap and water is the most desirable aspect for hand washing, but we are not always around soap and water, and that’s why it’s important to have hand sanitizer as a supplement,” Sansoni told the website Clean Link.
Here’s the germ school hot spots that are ideal locations to set up hand sanitizer dispensers:
The Drinking Fountain
Rotbart calls this the germiest place in schools, even germier than the bathroom.
“Most people think (the top germ zone) is the bathroom, but it really isn’t,” Rotbart told CNN for a August 2013 story on the Top 8 Germiest Places in School. “Those get regularly cleaned.”
Plus, Rotbart says, the water fountain is the perfect spot for kids to ingest microorganisms as they put their mouth on the stream of water – or right back in the fountain itself.
Having a hand sanitizer dispenser by the drinking fountain and encouraging kids to use it after drinking can prevent germs from following kids back to class.
Germs hang out in America’s primary learning centers by the millions. And an apple a day won’t keep the flu away by itself. Kids are constantly touching their faces and other kids.
“This is a very touchy-feel demographic, and that’s how we share germs,” Rotbart said. “… And the little ones don’t have the same exposure to germs that we do, so until their immune systems get built up, they get sick.”
Having hand sanitizer located by the classroom door and encouraging kids to use it when they return from recess can stop extremely contagious germs and bacteria from entering the classroom.
“Having them in a place where there’s a lot of foot traffic is a great way to keep the hands clean,” says Beatrix Babcock of Denver’s HCI Consulting Group LLC.
And numerous studies have found school absenteeism due to illness is significantly lower when an instant hand sanitizer is available and used in the classroom.
Germs love to hang out here, and trust us, they’re not here to check out books. Germs can easily spread on tables, chairs and book shelves. Having hand sanitizer dispensers at a central location in the library can shut the book on the spread of germs.
The Computer Lab
Kids share computers more than any other item in school, and studies have shown computers to hold 400 times as much bacteria as the average bathroom. As we know, kids don’t always have the cleanest hands, especially if they’re using the computer lab after outside recess, and schools don’t have the housecleaning staff to wipe down keyboards after every class.
Encouraging kids to use hand sanitizer after using computers can help them avoid bringing contagious bacteria back to the classroom.
One of the hottest germ zones. There are few things more germier in school than cafeteria trays.
“These don’t get wiped down (nearly enough),” Rotbart said.
Rotbart recommends kids bring trays to their table and then use hand sanitizer before they pick up their food.
Germs are constantly on the attack against kids in school, but well-placed hand sanitizer dispensers teamed with regular hand-washing can help kids fight back, stay healthy and stay in class.