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Including Your Students in Classroom Hygiene

Back to school with Covid

We have all been told that the best practices for keeping yourself and others safe during the COVID-19 pandemic include frequent hand hygiene, social distancing, and wearing masks. With schools opening back up, these guidelines can be difficult to implement. Additionally, CDC guidance for opening schools safely includes cleaning desks, doorknobs, sinks, and frequently touched surfaces in classrooms on a frequent basis; this potentially increases the workload significantly for teachers. 

To make these difficult times a little easier for our teachers, below are some ideas on how to include your students in classroom cleaning and proper hand hygiene.

Hand Hygiene Ideas

  • Have hand sanitizer available at the classroom door, and use a “gel in, gel out” procedure: students sanitize their hands every time they enter and exit the classroom
  • Allow 5-10 minutes for students to wash hands at the beginning of the day, before lunch, after recess, and at the end of the day at a minimum. Have students remain at their desks until it is their turn to wash their hands.
  • Have 1-2 students be “handwashing detectives” to watch their classmates wash their hands and sing a song that lasts 20 seconds
  • Have students decide on a class song that is sung while washing hands or using hand sanitizer
  • Come up with “Class Clean Rules” that are repeated at the beginning of the day to reinforce hand hygiene and wearing masks
  • Show short, educational videos on how to wash hands at the beginning of the day, or before students will wash hands
  • Do a handwashing experiment to show students how many germs can live on our hands and surfaces – https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/bam/teachers/epi-handwashing.html

Classroom Cleaning Ideas

  • 3-5 minutes before a class period ends, distribute disinfecting wipes to each student so they can wipe down their desks and seat
  • Play a “clean-up” song while students are wiping down desks
  • Make students the “Sheriff of Germ Town” – have students put sheriff stars stickers/badges on their shirts before getting ready to clean desks and chairs, play some Western music while cleaning, and have 1-2 “Super Sheriffs” wipe down doorknobs and other commonly touched surfaces
  • Make desk and surface cleaning part of the routine with hand hygiene – at the start of the day, before lunch, after recess, and at the end of the day. Start with desk and surface cleaning and end with hand hygiene.
  • If using disinfecting spray and paper towels, have one student pass paper towels out to other students while you spray the desks
  • Similar to the handwashing experiment – include an experiment that grows bacteria collected from doorknobs and classroom surfaces so students can see why it’s important to clean. https://www.sciencecompany.com/Bacteria-Growing-Experiments-in-Petri-Plates.aspx

For more information on how to reopen schools safety, check out our Asthma 411 resources page

Author: Lilly Hammack, OMS-IV, MS, RDN