Sharing may seem like caring, but not when it comes to germs and bacteria in the classroom. “Avoiding germs at schools isn’t as simple as just washing your hands in the bathroom or sneezing into your sleeve,” says Charles Gerba, Ph.D. “Germs are on everything kids touch in the classroom, as well as around the hallways, cafeteria and playground.”
Just about every school supply — from pens and pencils to headphones to sport jerseys — can be a vehicle for harmful bacteria. When your child goes to school, not only are they exposed to a variety of different types of bacteria, but they are collecting it all to bring home to you and your family.
A Guide to Back to School Germs
There are certain things that you should always advise your child to keep to themselves. Personal items like bathroom products, gym clothes, and lunch box tools (silverware, containers, etc.) are likely to be rich with bacteria. However, it may not be clear to your child that other items, like chapstick, earbuds, or face masks, should also be off limits. When considering what should and should not be shared, think about what items come in close proximity to your face or saliva, making them ideal for bacteria to transfer from child to child. As a general rule of thumb, you can advise your child to not share anything that comes close to their mouths.
Some things, like school supplies, may be common for kids to share at school, but this does not mean that they need to be sharing everything from pencils to notebooks to calculators. If your child needs to borrow a pencil or share a book with a peer, germ transfer will be inevitable in the classroom. If you want to minimize how much your child is sharing with other students, you can start by making sure that you have all the necessary tools for their schoolwork on your back to school list. Keeping their pencil pouch stocked will mean they don’t need to borrow pencils from the classroom stash or other students. Additionally, you might want to think about transitioning to mechanical pencils or sending them with a personal pencil sharpener. The classroom pencil sharpeners can be one of the germiest things in the room (Best Life).
Perhaps the worst type of sharing in the classroom is direct saliva exchange: the water bottle. When purchasing a water bottle for your child, consider picking out a unique design or labeling it clearly with their name to avoid confusion from other students. When you give your child their water bottle, it is also a good time to remind them that this is something they should be keeping to themselves. If they are worried about their friend being thirsty, you can offer a response that redirects them to the water fountain down the hall.
Here’s how you can stop the spread of germs and prepare to head back to school
Unfortunately, it is more than likely that regardless of what you say to your child, they will be sharing with their peers and picking up germs all around the classroom. So, teaching them safe practices is going to be key to keeping them healthy. When it comes to sharing things like classroom toys or learning tools, sanitizing afterwards should become a part of their everyday routine. When you are out and about, using hand sanitizer with your child can help build this habit for them to continue on their own at school. Plus, hand sanitizer doesn’t have to be boring or burdensome. Work with your child to pick out a sanitizer that they love so they are excited to apply it after touching communal items in the classroom. OLIKA’s new Back to School Collection features four different fun colors and scents that will be hard to miss. Clipping one right onto your child's lunchbox, backpack, or pencil pouch will remind them to apply throughout the day.
The other great thing about choosing an OLIKA sanitizer for your child is the spray formula– it can also be used as a disinfectant spray. Just show them how to spritz the disinfectant over surfaces like their desk when they first arrive at school each day. Once their friends smell the OLIKA sanitizer– it may catch on as a trend in the classroom! If you have read any germ facts about the classroom, you are probably aware of the overwhelming amount of germs that gather on surfaces like school desks which many students pass over each day (PJP).As you prepare for the fall, you can think about making a back to school guide with your child for when sharing is and is not caring in the classroom. Building sanitizing practices and avoiding sharing certain personal items, can help keep your child (and your family) safe from the germs living in the classroom. Shop the new Back to School Collection at OLIKA to prepare for classes this fall and get your student set up with their own clip-on sanitizer.
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