How Does School Environment Affects Teacher Wellness?

Updated on January 12, 2024

Preventing Illness & Improving Hygiene in Schools

With the new school year about to start, teachers will be busy preparing their lesson plans, classroom supplies, and getting themselves back into school-mode.

Potential Health Effects of Teaching

Teaching is a stressful profession, with 61% of those surveyed by the American Federation of Teachers saying they “always  or often” feel stressed by their jobs. Having to teach academic lessons that align with their schools’ curriculum and accommodates all students, manage student behavior, keep a record of everything they do, and take their work home makes teaching a nonstop job. The consistently high levels of stress make them more susceptible to illnesses. While stress is the culprit and changes need to be made to make teaching a less taxing career, making health and hygiene a priority for teachers will decrease the spread of illness-causing germs and the chances of them becoming ill.

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Stress and Illness

According to Cleveland Clinic, stress occurs “when life events surpass your abilities to cope. It causes your body to produce greater levels of the stress hormone cortisol.” When people consistently have high levels of stress, their white blood cell level is decreased. With fewer white blood cells, their bodies are less likely to be able to fight off viruses. The high level of cortisol is taxing on the immune system as well. At its worst, stress can aid in the development and progression of chronic diseases, like Fibromyalgia and Psoriasis.

A study performed in the United Kingdom found that teachers take eight days for the common cold each year, resulting in millions of dollars spent in lost productivity. The same survey found that one-third of teachers say they get at least six colds each year. In Canada, teachers miss an average of 11.6 days each year and in America, one out of four public school teachers miss 10 days or more. Aside from illnesses, reasons for sick days can include stress and taking care of sick family members.

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Purell Hand Sanitizer in the Classroom

Unfortunately for teachers, their students spread germs all too easily. According to Statistics Canada, school-age children catch up to eight respiratory infections each year. Symptoms do not always present themselves when children become sick, so they could be sharing their new virus without realizing it. Even when they are visibly sick, children often still go to school. A survey of American parents found that 49% of them would keep a child with a “slight fever” home and only 58% would keep a vomiting child out of school.

The Centers for Disease Control considers proper handwashing to be a “do-it-yourself” vaccine. As 80% of communicable diseases are spread by hand, keeping hands clean is crucial in decreasing the spread of germs. Touch-free, automatic fixtures in washrooms will help to make handwashing more effective. Teachers are less likely to recontaminate their hands when they do not have to touch faucet handles to turn the water off or touch a paper towel dispenser when they dry their hands. Making automatic hand sanitizer dispensers available will make hand hygiene even more convenient for them. Multiple studies from publications such as the Journal of School Health and American Journal of Infection Control have found that consistent handwashing and sanitizing can reduce school absenteeism from colds and gastrointestinal illnesses by as much as 50%.

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Before colds, the flu, and other viruses hit your school, consider reaching out to Citron Hygiene for a free consultation that safeguards the health of teachers and keep them in the classroom today!

Find out how we can elevate your washroom experience today.