Germs in the Classroom?

If you think your kids are sick a lot during the school year… that’s because they are. Children in day care or in school can have as many as 8 to 12 colds a year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And that’s just respiratory infections. What if we could prevent some of these illnesses in the first place?

Best ways to protect your kids from germs that tend to circulate in classrooms:

Wash Your Hands! Yes, yes, yes! You’ve heard it before—but that’s because it’s the best thing you can do to keep healthy. The Mayo Clinic states that it is especially critical to wash your hands before lunch, after using the bathroom or blowing your nose, and before handling your contact lenses. First wet your hands, then lather and rub for at least 20 seconds—or the time it takes to sing the alphabet song.

Clean desks every day – and don’t stop there. Wipe down anything the kids touch, including door handles and computer keyboards, but especially areas that could be warm or moist. That definitely includes classroom sinks and water fountains. One disturbing fact: a recent National Science Foundation (NSF) study found 10 times as many bacteria on the pencil sharpener than a school toilet seat. Yuck! So be sure to encourage children to use their own pencils, scissors, markers…sharing these items spreads germs quickly in a small environment.

Lastly, what about the germs in their mouths? The best way to get rid of mouth bacteria is to brush and floss at least twice each day. Proper brushing techniques can effectively clear away food particles and the germy film that eventually turns to plaque or tartar if left on teeth. Encourage brushing teeth for two minutes, two times a day!

Article provided by Jill Whisler MS, RDN, member of the Rethink Healthy Team, a service of Tahoe Forest health System. If you are interested in helping us spread healthy messages in the classrooms, please contact us at (530) 550-6730 or