These 10 tips for having a healthy classroom during cold season can help teachers prevent the spread of germs and avoid getting sick themselves.
Tips for a Healthy Classroom During Cold Season
Once the first cold hits your classroom, it doesn’t take long for it to spread to other students. Not to worry though, there are lots of ways teachers can help prevent the spread of germs and avoid getting sick when their students catch colds. These 10 tips can help keep you, and your students, healthier this winter.
1. Teach Students Good Hygiene
One way colds and flu are passed around classrooms is on hands and commonly used surfaces. Teaching students good restroom hygiene and how to turn off faucets using a paper towel after they wash their hands. Encourage your students to bring a refillable water bottle from home rather than using the school drinking fountains. It’s also a good idea to remind students to keep their hands and fingers away from their faces as much as possible.
2. Disinfect Every Day
Make it part of your dismissal routine to have students use disinfectant wipes to clean desks, doorknobs, devices, and keyboards daily. I even ask students to wipe off their pencils. If you have students with allergies or sensitivities, baby wipes are a good alternative. There are also a multitude of organic, chemical-free cleaners available at your grocery store. Consider putting these Lysol wipes, hand sanitizer, and boxes of tissues on your back to school supply list and ask parents to donate more when you run out during the year.
Collect scissors and other community supplies to sanitize in your dishwasher at home. Spray pillows, rugs, stuffed animals, and seat cushions if you have them in your classroom with Lysol or another disinfectant spray. Again, there are chemical-free versions of this on the market.
3. Wash Hands With Soap Not Sanitizer
Teach students to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds while making lots of bubbles. Hand sanitizer is fine in a pinch, but it doesn’t clean as well as real soap and water. Reinforce the importance of washing hands before eating and take a hand washing break before lunch and any snack times.
4. Keep Plenty of Kleenex Handy
Having a healthy classroom during cold season can be tough when so many students have the sniffles. Make a nose blowing station with plenty of tissues, a trash can, and a squirt bottle of hand sanitizer nearby. I always prefer students wash their hands with soap, but during cold season so many students have the sniffles that using hand sanitizer at least keeps them in the room! Teach and remind students to clean their hands after every time they blow their nose.
5. Teach Kids To Cover Their Cough
Another way to encourage a healthy classroom during cold season is to teach students to cough into their elbows. Covering coughs and sneezes is another key way to prevent the spread of germs. When I taught Kindergarten we called this the Dracula sneeze. Every year as winter was arriving we would take our classes outside to do the glitter germ test and teach student how to do the Dracula sneeze. To demonstrate how far and fast germs spread, we would take a handful of glitter and pretend to cough or sneeze into our hand. Of course the glitter would go flying and land surprisingly far fro where it started. This really makes an impression that students don’t forget as you teach and remind them to cough and sneeze into their elbows.
This video for kids is a great explanation of how we catch a cold and ways to stay healthy during cold season.
Colds, the Flu and You SciShow Kids (4:13)
6. Make Sure Students Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is always important, especially during cold and flu season. I mentioned before about encouraging students to bring a water bottle from home rather than using the school drinking fountains. Remind your students to drink 2 bottles each day. I incorporated this as a brain break during transitions and tried to have students finish their water before lunch, refill it on the playground, and drink a second bottle before dismissal. If the bathroom requests get out of hand, add another whole class visit to your schedule.
7. Keep Your Classroom Door Open
If you are in an enclosed building with a door that opens to a hallway, I recommend keeping it open as much as possible. This is only my opinion, but the thought of all those sniffles and colds in a warm, closed room is… well, yucky. I like to at least air it out while we are at lunch, outside, or at specials.
8. Send Home Parent Reminders
Make sure to send home a parent note with tips for staying healthy and school policies about when students are sick. Remind your parents to keep their child home if they are sick. My school sends students home if they have a fever and asks that they don’t return to school for 24 hours after the fever breaks. Include the phone number to the attendance line or office so parents have it handy if their child will be absent.
9. Wear Coats and Stay Active at Recess
You would be surprised at how often I have to remind students to wear their coat, and how often they try to slip out without one! Make sure they do if it’s cold outside. Have students stay active at recess. Exercise helps to keep our immune systems healthy and supports the circulation of white blood cells we need to fight off colds.
10. Encourage Healthy Snacks
Another way to encourage a healthy classroom is to keep sugar to a minimum. Encourage students to pack a healthy lunch and bring a healthy snack from home. Sending a healthy snack is a good reminder to include in your parent note too. Since I live in Arizona where the citrus becomes ripe in December, I often ask parents to donate tangerines and oranges if they have trees at home. Citrus trees give off more fruit than you can imagine and everyone who has them is trying to give it away! I keep a bin of fruit so students can eat as much as they want during lunch or recess. Parents know they can send me their extra fruit to bag and donate to our local food bank.
Try these tips to have a healthy classroom during cold season. Be sure to pin this for later and share it with your teacher friends!
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