The cold and flu season has hit with a vengeance this year. Everywhere I look people are coughing, sniffling, and sneezing…. even here in California where we seem to have missed the whole ‘winter weather’ memo altogether. (It’s been in the 70’s here… sorry, east coast friends!)
But an ounce of prevention may help slow the spread of germs, especially in a classroom environment where lots of little hands are sharing common supplies and touching chairs, tables, doorknobs, and more. Here are my 3 favorite tips for keeping the bugs at bay this winter…
1. Place a container of wet wipes (or baby wipes) by the door and get students in the habit of cleaning their hands every time they enter the room. Keep a trash can close by where the used wipes can be tossed as students head to their seats. If you also locate the tissue box here, you can train students to grab a wipe after using a tissue, too. Sure, you’ll go through lots of wipes this way, but let parents know what you’re up to and you’re likely to get some donations!
2. Teach students to ‘catch’ their coughs and sneezes in their elbows, not their hands. Because coughs and sneezes happen spontaneously without warning, healthy reactions must become habits, and this takes repetition. It may seem silly at first, but by being proactive and having students practice ‘catching’ their coughs and sneezes in the bend of their arm, they will learn this habit so much quicker than if you just remind them each time you see them coughing into their hand… or onto the person next to them! A poster on the wall can provide a good visual reminder, too. If everyone practiced this healthy habit, (adults included) I’m pretty sure we’d have a lot fewer illnesses going around.
3. Fill a small spray bottle with rubbing alcohol (91%) and take a few minutes at the end of each day to lightly mist any common surfaces your students touch, such as door and cabinet knobs, faucet handles, desk and table surfaces, chairs, etc. And while you’ve got that spray bottle out, lightly spritz any tubs of crayons, scissors, pencils or other supplies your students share, mixing them around as you spray them so they all get covered. The alcohol evaporates fast so everything will be dry by the time students return the next day. Just make sure you store rubbing alcohol out of students’ reach since it’s toxic if swallowed. (Bonus tip: Rubbing alcohol, even the amount found in hand sanitizer, also removes most permanent marker stains from desks!)What are your favorite tips for keeping your classroom germ-free? Please share what works for you in the comment section below!