It Can Be So Simple: Let's All Wash Our Hands

We have an all-staff meeting once a month at my school. They are lively gatherings. Door prizes are awarded, we share student successes, and figure out things like carnival, hall passes, and when to have class meetings. Not today. Today Nurse Ellen gave us a very informative talk. I have to say it left me a little unsettled as I went back to my classroom to teach.

We learned about avian and pandemic flu. We were shown a video about how to prepare for a flu outbreak that could close schools. Next we were given information about MRSA. In my college education courses we learned teaching methods and content, but were never given training in the health procedures that have moved into classrooms through the years. I remember the tooth brushing, the fluoride rinsing, the AIDs education sessions. At our first staff meeting each year we are now informed about bloodborne pathogens.

Today we were given masks to keep in our rooms to wear over our noses and mouth if needed. We were given a sample of Purell. The main message was clear and so simple: we now need to teach our students to wash their hands: correctly and often. We also discussed the areas of the classrooms we need to keep sanitized. I thought about laptops, keyboards, headphones, and containers of markers that are for general use. I thought about the water I have in my classroom that takes ten minutes to heat up. My head was swimming with thoughts of bad bugs and germs as I stood at my sink after the meeting washing my hands.

There have been cases of MRSA in nearby schools. Fortunately all the students were diagnosed early and treated. I am blessed to have students that are good hand washers. They also cover their sneezes and coughs. All it took was their science teacher to do a few talks with slides and pictures for them to understand bad germs and why they needed to wash again and again. For at least a year we have had hand sanitizer available at the lunch line as students get ready to eat.

The cartoon at the top has been a favorite Far Side of mine for years. We have bathrooms right in our classroom so we don't need the bell and flashing sign like the cartoon. If a student doesn't head right to the sink and wash their hands, they are "gently reminded" by their middle school peers and words like "oooh sick" and " I think you forgot something" echo through the room. I must say after the inservice this morning I know I washed my hands at least fifteen times.... and that was just before lunch.


  1. We had this same inservice yesterday! Our PreK/K teacher told me that I should expect the water bill to go up if the kids continue washing their hands the way they did today!!!

    That information was horrible, but necessary...

  2. Washing hands with good old soap and water is always the best.

    But how to keep my computer an phone clean??


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