Whenever children are together, there is a chance of spreading infections. Even with preventative measures in place, it is likely that some infections will be spread. For many of these infections, a child is contagious a day or more before he or she has symptoms and so others will never know when another child is passing a virus or bacteria. Fortunately though, not all illnesses are contagious.
Hand washing is a powerful antidote to illness. You might not have given it much thought. It’s either part of your routine, done frequently without thinking, or maybe you don’t do it much at all. But hand washing may be the single most important act anyone can do to prevent the spread of germs.
As early as possible, a child should get into the habit of washing hands often and thoroughly. All day long, your child is exposed to bacteria and viruses. Once their hands pick up these germs, they can be quickly infected by:
- Rubbing their eyes
- Touching their nose
- Bringing their fingers into contact with their mouth
The whole process can happen in seconds, and cause an infection that can last for days, weeks, or even longer. Hand washing can stop the spread of infection. Get into the habit of washing your hands:
- Before eating (including snacks)
- After a trip to the toilet
- Coming in from break times
- After touching an animal
- After sneezing or coughing if the hands have been used to cover the mouth
- When coming into contact with someone who is already unwell
Studies on hand washing in public toilets show that most people don’t have very good hygiene habits. Hand washing may mean just a quick splash of water and perhaps a squirt of soap, but not nearly enough to get their hands clean.
Make sure you use the soap dispensers available in all toilets around the school and hand sanitizer dispensers placed in other locations.
When coughing or sneezing, ensure you cover your mouth and use disposable tissues. Not doing so can cause germs to spread up to 30 metres. Spitting should also be actively discouraged.
Also, avoid sharing cups, eating utensils, towels, toothbrushes and brushes / combs with others. By following a few simple rules, you can help keep yourself germ free.
Have a look at our ‘Wash Germs Away’ poster. You’d be amazed at the number of everyday items that leave our hands covered in terms.
The Public Health Agency have developed a poster detailing guidance on infection prevention in schools. It details common ailments and provides recommendations on isolation periods where necessary, as well as general guidance on what constitutes good hygiene practices, laid out in the form of simple, practical advice.
The Welsh Assembly has developed a publication entitled “Teach Germs a Lesson”, for staff working in schools. The booklet details what staff and students can do to deal with and minimise the spread of infection in the school laid out in the form of simple and practical advice.