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How to Prevent the Spread of Germs in Your Classroom

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Cold and flu season is almost here, making preschool health a top priority. Since many little ones may not have good hand washing habits yet, or even understand how germs work, kids and germs are unavoidable. Having a plan for preventing sickness in your classroom is crucial.

Preschool Health and Safety Matters gives teachers several ways to prevent the spread of germs in their classroom through handy tips and advice focused on making the preschool classroom healthy and safe for everyone.
Use these tips to prevent the spread of germs in your classroom:

The most effective way to prevent the spread of disease is with frequent and thorough handwashing throughout the day. Children should wash their hands at the following times:

  • When they arrive at the early childhood setting
  • Before and after meals, snacks, or food activities
  • After outside play
  • Before and after playing with art or sensory materials such as water, sand, or modeling clay
  • After toileting or diapering
  • After sneezing or blowing their nose
  • After playing with animals or pet supplies
  • Any time their hands appear dirty

Adults should also wash their hands at the times listed above, as well as:

  • Before and after handling food or bottles
  • Before and after giving medications or performing medical procedures
  • Before and after diapering or assisting with toileting
  • After wiping noses
  • Before and after giving first aid
  • After cleaning up spills

Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Standard Precautions

  • Cleaning and disinfecting is essential. Although “cleaning” and “sanitizing” are sometimes used interchangeably, they involve different processes, solutions, and results. In fact, it is not possible to clean and sanitize at the same time.
  • While cleaning removes dirt and can make surfaces appear to be clean, cleaning with detergent is not effective for removing germs. After cleaning, the sanitizing process (or disinfecting) is what kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that a bleach-and-water solution of 1 tablespoon household bleach to 1 quart water effectively kills germs. Wet the surface with the solution and allow to air dry. Mix a fresh bleach solution each day to maintain effectiveness, and store in a clearly labeled spray bottle out of children’s reach.

Recognizing and Responding to Signs and Symptoms of Disease
Deciding when to exclude children due to illness and when they can be readmitted after an illness is one of the most important decisions a child care provider has to make, but it does not have to be the most difficult. Creating a policy that defines these exclusions is beneficial for families and helps you draw that firm line.
In general, there are three reasons to exclude sick children:

  1. The child does not feel well enough to participate comfortably in routine activities.
  2. The child requires more car than staff is able to provide without compromising the health and safety of the other children.
  3. The illness is on the list of symptoms or conditions for which exclusion is recommended, usually because of the chance of spreading.

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