If you work in an elementary school classroom, you know it when you hear it: the dreaded sneeze. It starts with one child, works its way through the classroom, and before you know it your room could be mistaken for a Kleenex commercial. It seems to happen every single year, especially around cold and flu season. Most years you're not even sure what virus you came down with and are happy to escape relatively unscathed. But there are many ways to help reduce the risk of catching a virus when working with children, some of which you might not have thought of before. Read on and implement the following tips to stay healthier in the classroom.
Hand sanitizer is one of the best things you can include in your classroom. Use it early and often, particularly in between sessions. Heading out to recess? Sanitize. Coming in from recess? Sanitize. Switching from one center to the next? You get the idea. Using hand sanitizer is helpful, but you can improve its effectiveness by following these tips.
The average person touches their face 16 times an hour. That means during a six-hour school day, you're likely to touch your face 96 times. Welcome to Germ City. If you don't believe you touch your face that often, try implementing the "Not Above the Neck" rule. As long as you're at school, and until you get home, don't touch anything above your neck. When you try not to, you'll realize just how often you touch your face during an average day. Your nose, eyes, mouth, and ears are all gateways to your body. If you're touching your face, chances are any germs on your hands are getting into your body through one of those gateways
Lysol is your best friend in the classroom. Most classrooms have Lysol wipes, and these can be used to clean the desks in between sessions. However, don't overlook fabric sprays. If your classroom has chairs, sofas, bean bags, or any other fabric surfaces that your kiddos (or you) sit on, make sure to spray them at least two or three times a day. If your students sit on a rug of any kind, use fabric spray to kill the germs on that, too.
Almost everyone knows that Vitamin C can help stave off or help a cold or the flu. However, ginger is also a powerful aid when it comes to staying healthy and boosting your immune system. Ginger teas, ginger capsules, ginger candies, and even raw ginger root with lemon in your water bottle can make a big difference in the power of your immune system. Supplementing with Airborne, Emergen-C, or other similar products can also help, particularly during cold and flu season.
You turned a page and got a paper cut. You have a loose piece of skin on your finger that pulled off and created a small sore. Your cat scratched you. These are all things that can happen on a regular basis, and most people shrug them off as not being a big deal. However, if you're working with children, all of those open sores - however small and insignificant they might seem - become very big deals. Just like your mouth and nose, any open cut on your body is a gateway into your bloodstream and body, and the last thing you want is to give germs any extra doors through which they can enter. No matter how tiny the cut, every single open sore, cut, abrasion, or scratch must be completely covered with a band-aid and sealed off from the open air. This will go a long way in helping you stay healthy, and is a good best practice for anyone working with other people, particularly children.
Following these five simple tips can help you protect yourself - and those you work with - during cold and flu season. However, it can also help keep your students healthier, as well. When everyone in the classroom commits to health as a priority, you can drastically reduce the amount of illness experienced by all those who learn and teach there.
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