The goal of every good teacher is to see all their students excel. The goal of every good principal is to see that accomplished through the dedicated efforts of their teachers. The goal of every district superintendent is to see that phenomenon develop within all the schools under their purview. And so it goes, all the way up to the state Secretaries of Education and to the nation’s Secretary of Education. Back down the ladder, into the classroom, how can those teachers and their students accomplish that goal of optimum achievement?
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has as its foundation – the floor of the pyramid – the physiological needs: food, water, shelter, warmth, sleep. The layer right above that is safety – which includes protection from the elements. Health – as the absence of illness – is a component of both of these levels of needs, and all of the levels above them (belonging, esteem, self-actualization) cannot be properly fulfilled until they are met, consistently.
So, a child’s absence due to illness doesn’t just represent loss of state or federal funding based on attendance. It doesn’t just represent time taken away from the teacher’s already full schedule to send home individualized studies or catch a returning student back up to speed with their class. It represents a set-back that undermines the whole educational process, limiting its potential to achieve that ultimate goal in Maslow’s hierarchy – self-actualization. And that, it could be argued, is the ultimate goal of education.
Teachers and students working together to stay healthy can make great strides toward that goal, though. Teaching students that covering their coughs and sneezes, refraining from touching each other, washing their hands properly and thoroughly can reduce the transmission of illness-causing microbes is essential. Making sure that children who bring their lunch from home have a place to refrigerate perishables and that cafeteria staff also follow all health protocols stringently can contribute to the continued health of all students.
Still, microbes can escape or bypass these protective measures. Not all of the microbes in every cough or sneeze will be caught. Not every student will always remember to refrain from touching others. Someone is bound to forget how hot the water should be, how long the scrubbing should continue, how important the ample presence of antibacterial soap is or to wash their hands at all! What then? For all those illness-causing microbes distributed throughout the classroom, assembly room, gym, and playground, how can their transmission to other students be stopped in its tracks?
The school custodian is as overtasked in their role as the teacher is in theirs. Cleaning up trash, vandalism, and daily accumulations of dust and repairing and replacing broken equipment consume their days. Asking them to provide consistent antibacterial protection throughout the school grounds, in the form of mopping and wiping down all surfaces with disinfectants is a herculean task. The chemicals required for standard disinfection are a danger in themselves (to custodian and students alike) if not properly administered. Also, those disinfectants are only effective against pathogenic bacteria if left of the surface to which they are applied for a significant amount of time – something a hurried and harried custodian may not do if asked to take on this task. Lastly, none of these liquid chemical sanitizers and disinfectants bind to the surface or have passive microbe killing properties. This means all the custodian’s hard work is quickly undone by students and teachers unintentional contaminating every surface they touch.
One viable solution is to implement SafeHandles products on all the commonly-touched surfaces – door knobs, faucet handles, flush handles, chalk trays. The installation is relatively easy and totally safe. The effects are lasting. The most lasting effect is healthy teachers and students, who can then pursue an excellent educational experience.