With cold and flu season arriving earlier than expected and projected to hit harder than usual, now’s the perfect time to educate students about health and hygiene habits. We spoke to Scott Annett, Health, Hygiene & Safety Specialist at Winc, to discuss three ways to ensure a better cold and flu etiquette in the classroom this winter.
But first, why is it important to teach good hygiene practices?
As schools around Australia deal with rising influenza rates and the return to face-to-face learning, young people are more vulnerable to colds and flu this season due to less viral contact and lower vaccination rates.
“As students remain indoors for the winter, more respiratory diseases will inevitably spread among young people,” informs Scott.
Encourage regular handwashing
Classrooms are a hot zone for germs to spread, therefore hand hygiene is important in lowering transmission of infections. “It’s hard to avoid close contact in schools, however reinforcing messaging around the importance of frequently washing hands is vital in reducing sickness in classrooms,” says Scott.
Encourage students to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds, paying close attention to the backs of hands and fingers, fingernails, fingertips and the webbing between fingers1. Motivate learners to use alcohol-based hand sanitiser whenever feasible and to have it available in their bags or at their desks.
Cover coughs and sneezes
Did you know that cold and flu viruses can live up to three hours or more as droplets in the air or on surfaces? These particles can then travel to high touch point areas such as desk and door handles, which are common hot spots for germs. Scott says, “coughing and sneezing indoors is unpreventable, however informing students to cough into their elbows or using tissues is highly beneficial.”
Safeguard your classroom with tissues and disinfectant wipes this winter season to limit the spread of respiratory illness among students.
Stay home if unwell
As colds and flu are easily passed from person to person by sick people’s coughing or sneezing, any students experiencing symptoms should stay home to recover and prevent further transmission within the classroom.
“The best way to stop the spread of influenza is to limit contact with others. If students start to feel unwell or exhibit any flu-like symptoms, recommend that they be kept at home until they feel better,” says Scott.
Educate your students about cold and flu etiquette and proper hygiene to help them remain safe this winter. Shop our Health & Hygiene sale online for all your cleaning and hygiene essentials this winter.
1Department of Health, 2015, ‘How to wash and dry hands’, <https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/how-to-wash-and-dry-hands#:~:text=Hand%20hygiene%20is%20crucial%20in,require%20the%20use%20of%20water>