Germ Prevention at School

Hand-washing is the best defense against coughs and colds

child washing her hands at school

Kids often share more than just their lunches during the school day. They also typically pass germs around the classroom. But there are some things they can do to decrease the risk.

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Susan Rehm, MD, who treats infectious diseases, says it’s easy for germs to spread in a classroom setting.

 “Children are not necessarily consistent with their use of tissues,” Dr. Rehm says. “They may not cover their cough, and they tend to share whatever they have with the people around them. So daycare and school situations are ideal for spread of respiratory virus.”

So what can parents do to help keep kids from spreading germs at school?

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Dr. Rehm recommends that parents teach their kids to:

  • Wash their hands. Kids should wash their hands before and after they eat and after using the restroom.
  • Keep sanitizer  in their desks or book bags. To be effective, sanitizer should be 60 percent alcohol.
  • Wipe down their desk with anti-bacterial wipes. Create a habit for kids to wipe their desks at the beginning and end of each school day.
  • Cover their coughs and sneezes. Teach them to coughs and sneezes into their elbows rather than their hands to decrease the spread of germs to others. Also, you can teach them that tissue is most effective, but if they can’t reach for a tissue in time, their elbow is okay to use.

“The cough-covering maneuver (coughing or sneezing into the elbow) I’ve heard referred to as the ‘Dracula move,’” Dr. Rehm says. Kids have picked up on that, I think, extraordinarily well.”

More information

Common Cold 
Influenza

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