Flashcard letter G is for germs

With so many touchpoints, the classroom can be a breeding ground for germs. To reduce students’ exposure to germs at school, CBS News reported these tips:

Schools and daycare centers should have handwashing in place policies for staff.
Establish a handwashing policy and monitor actual handwashing practices and the availability of sinks, suggested Neil Schachter, MD, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai in New York City, and the author of The Good Doctor's Guide to Colds and Flu.

Handwashing does make a difference. Research by Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana, found that education on germs and handwashing in childcare centers reduced the spread of infectious diseases during peak cold and flu season.

Wipe down common surfaces with registered disinfectants.
Make sure surfaces are being cleaned properly and regularly. Research has shown that nearly 50 percent of teachers surveyed report they regularly clean and disinfect their classrooms themselves.

In a school setting, common surfaces include drinking fountain handles, sink fixtures, light switches, paper towel dispensers, handles and doorknobs. Don't forget desks and commonly shared items such as keyboards.

Research from the University of Arizona found that desk surfaces, computer keyboards and computer mouses ranked high in levels of five bacteria, including E. coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Streptococcus, Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus. But when office workers cleaned their desk with disinfecting wipes, bacterial levels were reduced by 99 percent.

Make sure community toys are clean.
Stuffed animals should be put in the washing machine weekly during cold and flu season and plastic toys such as Legos can be washed with soap and water. Board game surfaces can be wiped down with disinfecting wipes.

Give kids mechanical pencils and their own crayons. Studies have shown that the dirtiest thing in any classroom is the community pencil sharpener. Shared art supplies are also shared germ carriers.

Use air filters to keep classroom air clean.
High-efficiency particulate-arresting (HEPA) filters can remove 99.97 percent of the pollen, dust, animal dander, and even bacteria from the air, according to Schachter.  If windows can be opened, open them along with doors to let fresh air in to circulate the air whenever possible.

Click here for additional tips.