Kids and sticky hands go hand in hand. Those little fingers are grabbing every toy in sight, rearranging dirt and mud in the yard, and searching for brains through their nose.

You might only have a few tiny humans around the house to worry about when cleaning up. That’s still a handful. To your excitement, school is back in session. Finally, you can make your kid’s mess someone else’s problem.

Kids can now run (walk) through the halls, touching water fountains, lockers, backpacks, other kids, shared supplies, toilets, computer labs, science equipment…

You get the picture. All those high touch surfaces are playgrounds for germs and illness-causing viruses to be transferred from one sticky hand to the next. You might be able to monitor hand washing at home, but how can you make sure your kids are safe from these germs at school?

The CDC states that 164 million school days are lost due to illness. That means each student misses 4.5 days a year! 83% of teachers comment that absenteeism is the main problem in school.

We already learned in parts 1, 2, and 3 that hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent the spread of germs. Even further research shows that hand washing and hand sanitizing interventions in school are shown effective to reduce illness-related absences.

Sadly, research also shows that the reinforcement of hand hygiene typically decreases once kids reach school. Luckily, there are some ways we can encourage our kids and schools to take action to prevent the spread of germs and keep everyone learning.

Role of Instruction

Rates were compared between students that received hand washing instruction and those who didn’t. Show of hands for which were cleaner?

Wash, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry

Make repetitive instructions to teach thorough cleaning

That’s right; having short, repetitive instructions had a statistically significant impact in reducing the percent of total absent days and the percent of illness-related absent days. Compared to those who only had access to hand hygiene facilities (bathrooms, soaps at sinks, hand sanitizer), kids who did use the material often weren’t thorough enough.

Access and Product

Having access to hand hygiene facilities is crucial. Knowing how to use the hand washing material is crucial. None of that is effective if you don’t have the right product.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not only hard on your skin, they are fire hazards hanging on the walls. It’s also not uncommon to hear about kids drinking hand sanitizer.

Waltz Free is the perfect option in situations like these, handed to us on a silver platter. The moisturizing hand lotion also sanitizes just as effectively as alcohol-based products, without any of the harmful effects. It also kills norovirus. Keep your kids and the school safe with the access to the right product.

Mindfulness

In part 3, we discussed the mindfulness technique that can be used in hospitals. That same technique can be used to encourage kids to focus on the present and keep their hands clean. Annaka Harris offers the Waking Up app that guides children through meditation and mindfulness which can help kids focus when they are washing their hands to make sure they are using the proper technique.

Shared Responsibility

As much as we want to hand our sticky kids off to someone else to worry about, all of this is a shared responsibility. Encouraging hand hygiene in the home translates to school, and vice versa. We can’t always assume that someone else will teach and reinforce this lifelong healthy habit. Making this a collaborative effort will keep kids healthy and in school throughout the year.

Let’s gain the upper hand on flu season during school. Equip your kids with the right product and access to hand hygiene facilities. Give a helpful hand by teaching the proper hand washing techniques for both hand sanitizers and sinks. Setting an example now will make a difference when “flu-season” comes around again.