Presentation on theme: "The Healthy Classroom October 2009 Classroom Tip of the Month Western Governors University."— Presentation transcript:
The Healthy Classroom October 2009 Classroom Tip of the Month Western Governors University
Without question, flu season is on everyone’s mind this year. The H1N1 virus has just compounded people’s concerns about staying healthy, especially in their work environment. This poses a risk for all teachers who deal with a multitude of children each day. It is inevitable that you and your students will transfer germs via your close contact. Some germs your immune system will fight off for you, other germs will be new to you and you might get sick a few days later. Either way, the purpose of this presentation is to remind everyone about some basic germ prevention and to remind teachers, both veterans and those new to the field, how to maintain the healthiest classroom possible. If you have specific concerns or questions about the flu or how to best maintain your health, please contact your local health care provider.
Teach a lesson on germ transfer. Get the students to contribute to the lesson by asking them to share their best prevention tips. Write these tips down on chart paper and then display these ideas in your classroom. It will serve as a reminder for students each day. Refer to the display as opportunities present themselves in the class. For example, if Johnny sneezes into his hands, ask the class “Using our class ideas, what suggestion would you have for Johnny to make sure he doesn’t spread any germs to the rest of the class?” If you involve the students in the “germ patrol”, they will learn “germ prevention”.
Student Reminders Encourage students to wash their hands often or use the hand sanitizer. If you notice that they have a runny nose, bring the tissues to them and insist they use them. Provide them an immediate pass to use the restroom to wash their hands. If you are proactive and aware of their behaviors, your students will learn from your example. Teach your students to sneeze into the crux of their elbow, instead of their hands. The chance of their arm coming into contact with others is less likely than if they had sneezed into their hands or the open air.
Student Reminders Discourage the use of your school water fountains. The button to push on the fountain is full of germs from previous students’ hands. In addition, many students put their mouths directly on the dispenser. Remind your students to only use this in an emergency and encourage them to bring bottled water or juice from home. If they select the bottled water option, remind them to put their name on their bottle so it doesn’t get confused with that of another student.
Eat healthy, exercise and get enough sleep each night to keep your immune system strong. Refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth until you have properly washed your hands. Wash your hands frequently in hot/warm water. Make sure you rub your hands vigorously and get under your nails for a minimum of 15 to 25 seconds. Some health professionals recommend singing a common song or nursery rhyme in your head to make sure you are washing them for the recommended amount of time.
Teacher Reminders Wipe down desks/tables, door handles, pencil sharpener and any other community items (such as board markers or chalk) in between classes with a cleaner that kills viruses. If you cannot do it between classes, at least do it at the end of the day. Invest in hand sanitizer, tissues and rubber gloves and use them often. Consider purchasing these for your “student center” and one for your own private use at your desk.
Teacher Reminders If you are responsible for emptying your own garbage at the end of the day, wear a rubber glove or wash your hands immediately afterwards. Students will often “bounce” their tissues off the the sides of the basket to get it in the basket. If you touch these areas, you are touching their germs. Protect yourself! Don’t use a wooden/re-usable bathroom pass. Once in the bathroom, students always put it in their mouth to go to the bathroom or wash their hands. Use a paper pass for all students and have them discard it when they return to your classroom.
Teacher Reminders Eliminate “collective supplies”. If you are a teacher who has a box of pencils, a box of scissors, a handful of glue sticks, etc. and you require the students to share, consider changing your policy. Distribute your supplies among your students and have them label them with their name. If students have their own supplies, their transfer of germs is reduced significantly. Reduce “group work”. There is nothing wrong with altering your lesson plan from group work to individual performances to prevent students who are contagious from working too closely together.
Teacher Reminders For high school teachers, consider using “detention time” as “disinfecting duty”. Supply your students with rubber gloves and have them wipe down the obvious germ items in your classroom. Be sure to check with your administration to make sure this is considered acceptable disciplinary action before asking students to complete these tasks. Do not lick your fingers during class time to distribute student papers or to sort student work. This eliminates you and students passing germs to each other. Your local office supply store sells a rubber thimble or a wax disk that you can use to help make your finger sticky.
Teacher Reminders Isolate sick students. If you notice a student is obviously ill, send them to the school nurse for assessment. If your school campus doesn’t have a nurse, send them to a remote area of your school (computer lab, library, etc.) to keep them from spreading germs to the other students in your classroom. If you notice a student is habitually sick, talk to them. Ask if they’ve received any sort of medical attention. If they haven’t and they appear to be getting worse, you need to speak to your guidance office or principal. Neglect is a form of child abuse and by law you are required to report that to your state office for investigation.
If you have any comments or questions about this presentation, please contact Marcella Ryan, WGU Mentor for Teacher Alumni, at If you would like to provide your own ideas, please visit our WGU Teacher Blog and share your thoughts at Click on “Teachers College” and then choose “Teacher Blog” to post your ideas.