The Importance of Hand Hygiene in Schools

students with masks on in class Hand hygiene is king in the prevention of illness in any type of commercial facility from schools to hospitals, long term care homes to shopping centres. The coronavirus has brought to the surface just how important proper commercial hand hygiene solutions are, not only to help stop the spread of infection, but also to instil confidence in all who come and go as they can rest assured that the necessary safety measures have been put in place to protect their health and safety.

As students in North America return back into a busy school environment again, it’s essential to have good hygiene measures in place to keep the spread of illness to a minimum. With children previously spending the majority of their learning time at home, parents and students may feel anxious about returning back into a school environment. Therefore, schools need to implement exceptional hygiene measures to evoke a safe, healthy environment and to give students and staff peace of mind on their return.

Benefits of Hand Hygiene in Schools

Hand hygiene in schools has a range of benefits that can take a schools’ hygiene grade from a C to an A+. Facilitating and implementing proper hand hygiene within your school can initiate a ripple effect too; students will form healthy hygiene habits within the week that will extend into their lives outside of school inevitably causing change on a wider scale. From increased productivity to better pupil health, and therefore increased attendance, here’s why hand hygiene is so beneficial and crucial in schools, especially in the current climate.

Better Pupil Health & Well-Being

Pupils’ health matters and should be a schools #1 concern. Better hand hygiene means better wellbeing which ultimately leads to improved grades, pupil and staff happiness and engagement. Proper hand hygiene is a simple step to ensuring students are not suffering from lack of health and can achieve their full potential on a day-to-day basis.

Increased Attendance

In Canada, chronic school absenteeism is defined as missing 10% of the school year, or about 19 days. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that, in the US, 13% of children miss a whole month’s worth of school each year. A yearly Ontario report revealed 11% of elementary school kids were chronically absent from school and, in some areas of the province, average absence rates were more than 20%. The most common reasons for absences include a high rate of infections, such as influenza other harmful diseases so even after the pandemic it’s vital that hygiene is still a priority to keep staff and students healthy and protected from other illnesses.

The higher the absenteeism the greater risk of children falling short of maximizing their academic and educational success therefore good hygiene should be absolutely paramount to a school’s focus as it helps to ensure the health and safety on students and staff at all times.

Peace of Mind for Parents

Schools are notoriously known as being a space where illnesses are caught easily due to the very nature of school activities. School can often mean that kids are in closer contact with others indoors and outdoors while children often have weaker immune systems. Kids often forget to cover their mouths when sneezing and coughing which can often lead to the spread of illness too.

Parents may be struggling to cope with their children returning to a busy school environment where the spread of bacteria can be an issue. However, with good hygiene you can prove to parents your educational facility is doing all they can to protect their child, providing peace of mind and a sense of trust.

More Engaged Students & Teachers

In a study based around ‘Cleanliness and Learning in Higher Education’ 84% of the students rated ‘tidiness’ or ‘spotlessness’ on the cleanliness scale and said that this condition is needed for optimal learning. They also stated how ‘an uncleaned building triggered a negative impact on students’ mind-set and ‘actively heightened their stress levels’.

With the knowledge that your school is taking all necessary hand hygiene precautions on teachers’ and students’ arrival, people will feel more relaxed and comfortable within your school environment. Therefore, they’ll be more engaged in the work they’re doing and feel at ease with teaching and learning to the best of their ability.

Risks of Poor Hygiene

Handwashing and sanitizing are two of the most effective and cost-efficient ways of preventing disease within any commercial facility. However, despite this information, handwashing is still not universally practiced properly. In fact, the majority of child deaths (more than 3.5 million) are caused by diarrhoea and pneumonia caught at school. While hand washing may have improved since the pandemic, it’s important that this habit is something we all remember to exercise every day to avoid the potential risks.

Increased Risk of Infection Transmission

Schools can be known to have poor hand hygiene habits which directly be linked to increased occurrences of infectious diseases. With worsened hygiene practices, a greater spread of illnesses can happen inside and outside the school gates. With the risk of the coronavirus, poor hygiene is not an option and needs to be stopped to ensure infection rates stay low.

Poor Mental Well-being & Productivity

With impaired hygiene comes poor mental health and well-being which is known to have an effect on productivity amongst both staff and students. You want to ensure students remain engaged and are being taught by engaged staff who exhilarate passion and excitement in what they do. Unfortunately, poor hygiene can cause the opposite effect and greater implications in the long run. It can also be a sign that your educational facility lacks care and consideration of its employees and students which lessens the wellbeing of those working and learning within your facility.

Overall School Results

Your school results paint a picture to potential parents seeking a new school for their child. Many households prioritize discipline and exam results, however if bad hygiene is prevalent in your school, student’s productivity and education may suffer resulting in worsened school grades. In turn, this could lead to parents disregarding your school as an option and seeking various other schools that showcase and promise better academic results.

Important Considerations When Choosing Hand Hygiene Solutions for Children

It’s important to consider hand hygiene alternatives to children who may have learning difficulties or skin diseases such as eczema, where the use of some hand hygiene products may not always be possible.

For those with eczema, children may need to bring in their own hand soaps or sanitizers to ensure their skin isn’t irritated which will mean hand hygiene best practices will be different. For example, children will need to wash their hands first with soap for 20 seconds and then again with emollient. Perhaps your school could display appropriate guidance within washrooms for those with eczema, who require it.

Learn more about Eczema and Covid-19 hand hygiene precautions in schools from the National Eczema Society.

Children who suffer from learning difficulties may require different hand hygiene equipment to facilitate their needs. No matter if students have a learning ability or not, everyone should have equal access to proper hand hygiene solutions. The Canadian Government provide guidance on hand hygiene for individuals with disabilities explaining important considerations to be aware of including when and how hands should be washed.

How to Encourage Hand Hygiene in Schools

Create a Song or a Game

All children love to play a game and sing a song, it makes learning fun. Every time children wash their hands why not make it a rule that they have to sing a chorus of their favourite song. Here are some fun Washing Hands Activities for Kids that’ll ensure your hygiene standards are maintained whilst having fun too.

Reminders in School Assemblies

School assemblies are the perfect way for all school staff and pupils to get together. Use the opportunity as a way to communicate the importance of hand hygiene and your school standards/expectations. This way hygiene can be emphasized as your schools’ number one priority; students will work together by practicing proper hand hygiene to create a safe space for all.

Display Guidance Posters for KidsPoster of Hand Washing Technique for Children

By displaying hand hygiene posters around your school facilities, children will constantly be reminded to practice proper hand hygiene no matter where they go. After using the washroom, before and after lunch breaks and after playing sport outside are just a few of the best times for kids to be encouraged to wash or sanitize their hands to remove any potential germs picked up throughout the day.

Download Citron’s free hand hygiene guidance posters:

Ensure Your School Has Correct Hygiene Solutions in Place

Making hand hygiene a number one and providing all the essential hand care solutions in your school can ensure the right behaviours are practiced.  From touch-free soap solutions in washrooms to commercial hand dryers of the correct temperature, to commercial hand sanitizer solutions in entrance ways, classrooms and on students desks you can ensure all who come and go can wash their hands properly and at the right times.

Teach Hand Hygiene During Lessons 

As hygiene is such a key focus, now more than ever, there’s no harm in introducing the importance, and practice, of proper hand hygiene in your lessons to ensure children are fully equipped with the right knowledge. A discussion covering the crucial elements of hand hygiene, why it’s so important and the impact it has on the wider community can encourage students to practice what’s been learned to ensure infection rates are controlled.

Further Hygiene Guidance for Schools

We understand how daunting reopening schools during a pandemic can be for children, parents and management teams. That’s why, as experts in the field, Citron have created a guide on How to Safely Open School During a Pandemic with all our expert advice to help elevate school hygiene standards in alignment with latest guidelines.

Our Back to School Safely Infographic also includes some guidance on solutions your school could benefit from for better hygiene.

We have also created a complete guide to hand hygiene which shares some other useful tips to be aware of.  

Hands Up for Great Hand Hygiene in Schools

Citron Hygiene offer a range of hand hygiene solutions suitable for schools, universities and colleges. Let us help you build a healthier school environment overall with our range of hand care services and solutions that can protect staff and students and enhance the educational experience.

To find out how we can help your school deliver A grade hygiene now and in the future, get in touch with our expert team.

 

 

 

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