Hand washing in schools is an important step in keeping staff and children safe.
The CDC recommends that in schools both the children and adults should be washing their hands at key times throughout the day.
Hand washing in schools should be done with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, followed by hand drying, ideally with a commercial hand dryer.
When soap and water are not readily available you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has a 60% alcohol content as an alternative, like Purell.
But why exactly is hand hygiene so important in school facilities?
What best practices and tips encourage both students and teachers to practice excellent hand hygiene in the classroom?
Read on to find out!
Why Hand Washing in Schools is Such a Hot Topic
Hand hygiene is king in the prevention of illness in any type of public or educational facility from daycares to elementary schools and even colleagues and universities. The coronavirus has brought to the surface just how important proper commercial hand hygiene solutions are.
Not only does hand washing help stop the spread of infection, but it also instills 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.
School bathrooms are especially a key focus area where elevating hygiene practices can help prevent the spread of flu, RSV, COVID19 and the common cold.
As any parent knows, not only do you want to keep your children safe from infection, but back-to-back sickness can take down an entire household and even put pressure on work commitments and career obligations.
Yet, with the right hand hygiene practices we can limit the spread of illness, keep kids in the classroom and parents at work.
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 school week that will extend into their lives outside of school inevitably causing change on a wider scale.
From increased productivity to better student health, and increased attendance, here’s why hand hygiene is so beneficial and crucial in schools, especially in the current climate.
Better Student Health & Well-Being
Kids health matters, and should be a schools #1 concern.
Better hand hygiene means better wellbeing, which ultimately leads to improved grades, student and staff happiness and engagement.
Proper hand hygiene is a simple step to ensuring students are not suffering from poor health and can achieve their full potential on a day-to-day basis.
In the US, chronic school absenteeism is defined as missing 15 days of the school year, or more and in Canada it’s 19 days or more.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that, in the US, 13% of children miss a whole month’s worth of school each year.
And the problem is not much better in Canada (perhaps because you need to be absent for more days for it to be considered chronic absenteeism). 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 and 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 the risk of children falling short of maximizing their academic and educational success. The importance of good hygiene in schools should not be underestimated.
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 which presents prime conditions for illness to spread rapidly.
Children often also have weaker immune systems making them more prone to illness. And, in addition, they often forget to cover their mouths when sneezing and coughing which can further speed up the spread of illness.
Parents may be struggling to cope with their children learning in an environment where the spread of bacteria can be an issue.
However, with good hygiene and encouraging hand washing and hand drying in school, you can prove to parents your educational facility is doing all it 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.
The Risks of Poor Hand Hygiene in Schools
Hand washing in schools and using hand sanitizers are two of the most effective and cost-efficient ways of preventing disease within any educational facility.
However, despite this information, handwashing in schools is still not universally practiced properly. In fact, the majority of child deaths (more than 3.5 million) are caused by diarrhea 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 well-being of those working and learning within your facility.
Diminishing School Results
Your school results paint a picture to potential parents seeking a new school for their child and 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. This may then impact your hand hygiene policies. 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 disability or not, everyone should have equal access to proper hand hygiene solutions.
The Canadian Government provides 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 Washing 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 favorite song.
Resource: 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 washing and 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 Kids
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 sports 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.
Resource: Download Citron’s FREE hand hygiene guidance posters.
Downloadable Hand Hygiene Posters
- How to Wash Your Hands Poster
- How to Sanitize Your Hands Poster
- Be Wise, Please Use Hand Sanitizer Signs
- Hand Washing Technique for Children Poster
Ensure Your School Has Correct Hygiene Solutions in Place
Making hand hygiene a number one priority and providing all the essential hand care solutions in your school can ensure the right behaviors 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.
It’s critical as you’re considering your hand hygiene solutions, that you don’t forget the importance of hand drying and equipping your school bathrooms with the best hand dryers that remove bacteria from hands and the air.
Teach Hand Washing 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.
Hands Up for Great Hand Hygiene in Schools
Citron Hygiene offers 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 “grade A hand hygiene” now and in the future, get in touch with our expert team.