Flu season brings along feelings of dread for many teachers; after all, when you work with little ones, it can be difficult to keep the germ-spreading to a minimum. Aside from the flu, norovirus is also a very real threat that teachers need to be aware of; this stomach bug hospitalizes up to 71,000 people and kills around 700 people in the United States each year. Fortunately, you can take measures to protect yourself and your students from germs in the classroom.
Make Hand-Washing a Habit
No matter how young or old the children in your classroom are, it’s important to make hand-washing and sanitizing a habit. In addition to instructing children to wash their hands after using the restroom and before/after eating, it’s also a good idea to have hand sanitizer bottles around the classroom for them to use before playing with toys or logging onto shared computers.
Disinfectant is Your Friend
Taking the time to sanitize and disinfect commonly shared classroom items is also a must. Just a few minutes of your time could make all the difference in preventing the spread of germs. In addition to wiping down surfaces with disinfecting wipes, use disinfecting sprays on door knobs, drawer/cabinet handles, toys, and other items that are commonly shared among students.
Avoid Germ-Spreading Activities
Now is also a good time to revisit your lesson plan and consider cutting back on activities that may allow for the spread of germs. This includes games that require students to pass or share items such as pencils, markers, blocks, and other small objects that are difficult to disinfect otherwise.
Educate Your Students
Flu season is also a good time to speak with your children about the importance of keeping their hands to themselves, as well as not sharing food or drinks with one another. Explain to them how germs can spread through these activities so they understand the reasoning for these rules.
Send Notes Home to Parents
Finally, don’t hesitate to send friendly reminders home to parents. Specifically, remind parents that if their children are showing symptoms of a virus, it’s imperative that they stay home from school so as to avoid spreading the virus to other students. You may also want to include a recommendation to send children to school with their own individual bottle of hand sanitizer, which can easily attach to a backpack or lunch box for convenient and easy access.
No teacher wants to see their students sick, let alone catch a virus themselves. It’s important to understand that keeping classrooms germ-free is everybody’s responsibility—teachers and students alike. By following these tips, you can reduce the chances of viruses and illnesses spreading throughout your own classroom and beyond.