Tips for a Healthier School Year

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School is in session - and so are GERMS! Start with these three simple steps to help your kids stay germ-free this school year!

Recent studies plus recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have shown that doing these three steps can reduce the spread of germs. Unfortunately, the spread of illness-causing germs can lead to missed school days, causing causes 144 million lost school days each year.

1. Wash and sanitize hands

Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. According to a recent study in Pediatrics, researchers examined the effectiveness of educational and hand hygiene programs that include alcohol-based hand sanitizer ages 0 – 3 three years old, enrolled in child care centers at least 15 hours per week. They found that using hand sanitize reaped these benefits:

  • About a 30 percent reduction in antibiotic prescriptions
  • About a 23 percent reduction in respiratory infections
  • A lower number of days absent due to respiratory infections

Washing your hands should take as little as 20 seconds – parents can begin by teaching their kids to wash and sanitize at home, and teachers can reinforce this in the classroom! Here’s how to do it properly, step by step:

  • Wet hands with water.
  • Apply enough soap to create a lather.
  • Cover all hand surfaces with the lather by rubbing hands palm-to-palm, carefully scrubbing the fingers, back and front of hands and each thumb.
  • Rinse hands with water.
  • Gently dry hands with a clean paper towel.
  • DONE!

Hand Sanitizing should take about 15 seconds. The CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Use these step for germ-free hands!

  • Apply a dime-sized amount of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, (such as PURELL Hand Sanitizer) in the palm of your hand, enough to cover all surfaces of your hands.
  • Rub the sanitizer into the palms of your hands, fingers, back and front of hands and thumbs.
  • Continue rubbing hands together until they are dry.
  • DONE and CLEAN!

2. Learn the key moments for hand hygiene

Key moments at school for kids to wash with soap and water, or sanitize their hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer include:

  • After using the bathroom
  • Before and after eating
  • After recess
  • After sneezing or coughing

3. Know the germ “hot-spots”

It helps to share with your kids where the germ hot-spots are in a school. This encourages them to wash or sanitize their hands after coming into contact with the places that are touched by many hands in a day.

The germ hot-spots include:

  • Cafeteria tables
  • Computer keyboards and mice
  • Desks
  • Handrails
  • Gym equipment
  • Faucets
  • Door knobs

Communicate these steps with your kids at home, and of course, have a safe and healthy school year!


(Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics)

Amanda Hayward is editor of this publication. She is from Cincinnati, Ohio, a military wife and mom of two. If you don't see her writing for Cincinnati Family, you'll find her running, juggling kids, teaching group fitness classes and cooking up healthy recipes.

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