Among the many issues the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed is the lack of regular, proper handwashing in people’s daily routines. Not only is handwashing critically important in reducing the spread of disease, it is also a good habit to practice, regardless of a pandemic.
It’s never too early to instill healthy habits, particularly when it comes to hand hygiene. Yet, there’s a clear lack of knowledge surrounding children and hand hygiene in schools. More than 85 per cent of parents need to remind their child to wash their hands, and nearly half of parents (47.6 per cent) don’t know what protocols their child’s preschool has in place to encourage proper hand hygiene.
The simple exercise of handwashing can go a long way in preventing the spread of germs and diseases, especially in schools where children frequently touch a variety of common objects, such as toys, books and school supplies. Maintaining a clean education facility is no longer enough. Proper hand hygiene training, heightened surface cleaning protocols and access to hygiene products are essential to keep schools open and provide a safe environment for students, faculty and staff.
Start Early and Make Hand Hygiene Fun
The earlier handwashing becomes a habit, the better. Preschool is the best age to teach kids about hand hygiene, as it is around the time when children begin to develop a solid foundation of life skills.
Tork, a supplier of hand towels, soap and hand sanitizer used in many schools, has launched the Ella’s Hand Washing School package, which includes an interactive app, hygiene brochures, teaching material, as well as activities to help make handwashing fun. This Ella’s Hand Washing Adventure app allows children to discover more about the best ways to wash their hands while having fun with Ella and friends, teaching preschool and kindergarten kids the mechanics of proper handwashing, and why it matters. There is also an app for older children aged 6-10, Max’s Hand Washing School. These apps are just some of the ways we can encourage proper hand hygiene and facilitate proper cleaning and disinfecting protocols in schools and higher educational facilities.
Keep Shared Spaces Hygienic
Promoting handwashing is just one way to boost hygiene. Because shared spaces can facilitate disease and germ spread, school restrooms must be cleaned rigorously, regularly and remain well-stocked with critical hygiene products.
The best way to ensure shared spaces are hygienic is by maintaining a checklist that monitors daily cleanings and selecting personal hygiene products that are high capacity and reduce the risk of run-outs. When reevaluating hygiene solutions, consider products that reduce maintenance and cross-contamination. Certain hand towel dispensers and other products can help optimize traffic flow with one-at-a-time towel dispensing that allows users to only touch the towel they take. Quick dispensing also enables students and faculty to move in and out of the restroom quickly.
In addition, rethinking the layout of your shared spaces and strategically placing paper hand towel, soap, and sanitizer dispensers, as well as trash cans, can make a difference in how compliant students, faculty and staff are in using hygiene products. In particular, making hand soap and sanitizer dispensers easily accessible in schools helps to reinforce proper hand hygiene and minimize illness transmission.
Just as smartly placed dispensers can help keep hand hygiene top-of-mind, so too can clearly-displayed – and age-appropriate – hand hygiene signage. Every educational institution should display hand hygiene posters that can help keep students, teachers and staff safer and reduce the spread of viruses and diseases.
A Safer Outlook
No matter what type of educational facility, proper hand hygiene education and proper surface cleaning has never been more important. These steps are one of the most effective actions people can take to protect themselves from the risk of infection, protect others, and ensure their communities are safer as they help decrease the likelihood of transmitting germs. By promoting proper hand hygiene and keeping schools and educational facilities clean and hygienic, we can all work together to keep students, faculty and staff safe.
Rachel Olsavicky is the regional marketing manager – commercial and public interest at Essity Professional Hygiene.
1The survey has been executed by Questback on commission by Essity, during August and September 2013. The sample consists of 3,121 randomly selected parents with children in pre-school, distributed equally over the geographical regions; United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany and France. Data has been collected through online panels with invites distributed through e-mail.