School absenteeism due to illness is not fiction. In the United States, there are approximately 164 million lost school days each year among students in kindergarten to grade 12 which averages out to 4.5 sick days per student per year. In fact, some studies have shown that kindergarteners on average have 12 colds a year, while older kids develop about seven. 

In a society where school reimbursement is directly related to attendance this can mean the loss of a significant portion of the schools funding. According to a recent report from Deb Group, reimbursement numbers vary from district to district, but generally average $30 to $50 per student. To a school district with a student population of 50,000 that receives a $30 per student reimbursement, a daily absenteeism rate of 1 percent can mean a loss of $15,000 a day.  Assuming that same district of 50,000 students averages 4.5 sick days each, by the end of the school year we are talking big bucks - $6.75 million to be exact.
The effect of implementing a hand hygiene program in schools to reduce infections has been well documented by a number of studies.  In a back-to-school blog done by Deb Group last year, URGENTLY NEEDED - 1 Angry Bird Knapsack, a study was highlighted that reported after a hand hygiene program was implemented where student's used hand sanitizer 3 times per day, that the number of students who missed four or more days due to illness dropped by 66 percent.
A study published in 2009 in the Journal of School Nursing by Dr. Charles Gerba titled "Occurrence of bacteria and viruses on elementary classroom surfaces and the potential role of classroom hygiene in the spread of infectious diseases," explored the survival of bacteria and viruses on surfaces in classrooms in an attempt to determine if an environmental hygiene program using disinfecting wipes could reduce infections.  In the study, disinfecting wipes were used daily (each morning before students arrived) to clean surfaces within classrooms.  The study found that the water fountain handle and the manual pencil sharpener, both of which are used by numerous students throughout the day, were two of the most bacterially contaminated surfaces.  The sink faucet handle, the paper towel dispenser and the student desktops were most often contaminated by Influenza A virus and Norovirus was frequently found on these surfaces, as well.
As with the hand hygiene study, Gerba found that the classrooms that were cleaned and disinfected each morning with a disinfectant wipe had a statistically significant reduction in student absenteeism due to illness suggesting that proper classroom environmental hygiene program could reduce the transfer of bacteria and viruses from environmental surfaces to students hands.

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