How can schools stay productive during cold and flu season? Still a good question, one to which many of the basic answers are contained in the “How can businesses stay productive during cold and flu season?” blog. But for schools there are a myriad of other factors.
An environment consists of two things: objects and people. The school differs drastically from the business place in both. The classroom is typically a much tighter concentration of people than any workplace. There are no cubicle walls or work stalls to act as default sneeze barriers. The students are within arm’s reach of each other and often use the things at the end of those arms to touch each other. The teacher can say “Don’t touch her/him!” but child psychologists say that negative commands (starting with “don’t”) aren’t heard until whatever follows “don’t”. Whereas there may be no commonly touched items in a workplace outside the eating area and restrooms, classrooms often have community resources like reference books, whiteboards, playground equipment. When smaller children are in transit from one place to another, they are urged to stay close together in line. Plus, while some children have difficulty with sharing even what they’re supposed to, many love to share what they’re not supposed to – clothes, food, germs. These practices all heighten the likelihood of transmission of infection.
As is the case with the workplace, the first bulwark against cold and flu season is vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that every healthy person over the age of six months should receive an annual flu shot. If those can be provided at the school it increases the incidence of vaccination and thereby reduces the incidence of infection.
Classroom education in basic health practices such as using the crook of the arm or a tissue to capture a sneeze or cough can be the basis of lifelong healthy living practices – as well as the means of preventing widespread and extended absences due to colds or flu. Children have not yet developed a fully-formed immune system and are more susceptible to the microbes to which they are exposed. They also haven’t formed the hardened work ethic to do the job no matter what. So their attention and retention will plummet when they begin to suffer from even the mildest initial symptoms of cold or flu. Keeping them in school is a disservice to all involved. They are no longer capable of productive learning, and they are all too capable of spreading their infection to their classmates. Perfect attendance should never be a holy grail of public education. Healthy, happy students should be the goal – far more attainable than the grail.
Toward that attainment, SafeHandles products offer an important additional protection against infectious disease transmission. In addition to door knobs, corridor railings, bathroom faucets and toilet flush handles, the handholds and railings for playground equipment and the pen trays for whiteboards are potential applications of SafeHandles Ster-Roll tape.
Teaching children to implement good hygiene protocols – washing hands correctly, thoroughly and regularly, not touching their mouth or face unnecessarily – is an essential part of their long-term education but it is also an essential part of their protection in the short term. In the interim, while they learn, knowing that SafeHandles is reducing their exposure to potential infection and illness should bring peace of mind for their teachers (who are also susceptible to the cold and flu their students incubate) and their parents (who often have to stay home from work to care for them when they are ill).