Flu season is ready to rear its ugly head again. You know the drill: teachers calling out, students getting sick in class, and school events canceled.
Now is the time to take preventative actions. Before an outbreak sends half of your school into virtual learning, here’s a guide to creating a healthy and safe school environment for students and staff alike.
Focus on Hand Hygiene
Students are touching their faces, eyes, and noses … and then immediately sharing pencils, opening doors, and generally touching lots of surfaces in your school. Unfortunately, all of those shared surfaces may be harboring the flu virus. Once the virus gets onto the pencil sharpener or sink, it can live there for up to 48 hours.
The single best way to prevent the spread of the flu is proper hand hygiene. This means frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using an antimicrobial hand sanitizer. Put up signs that remind students and staff of the best practices for washing their hands.
We know it’s not easy, but your school will need to take hand hygiene seriously. Place hand sanitizer in every room so students can easily sanitize their hands every time they re-enter their class. You’ll also need to remind teachers to enforce hand hygiene protocols for their students.
Stay at Home
Make it a priority for your school to support students and staff who do come down with the flu, so that they won’t feel pressure to return sooner than necessary. Before flu season hits, take a moment to re-evaluate your sick leave policies and remote learning capabilities.
If you have the resources to offer e-learning, take full advantage of them. Teachers can provide homework and lessons online for students who are sick but don’t want to fall behind. And for staff who get sick, don’t ask them to come back sooner than necessary. While substitute teachers are in short supply, it’s easier to find one sub than five if a sick teacher spreads the flu to their colleagues.
Encourage Flu Vaccines
The best way to manage flu season is to prevent it in advance. In high risk environments like schools, the annual flu shot is your best bet. Make sure your staff and parents are aware of flu vaccine best practices and availability.
Education is key here. Send out school-wide emails to inform parents about the benefits of flu vaccines and how they work. Remind them that your body takes around two weeks to develop an immune response from a vaccine, so the sooner they get their flu shot, the better. Not only will this prevent infections but it will also reduce the severity for those who do come down with the flu.
You might get some questions — be prepared to answer them. For example, some parents may ask if the flu vaccine can actually cause the disease. While you might experience mild symptoms after getting a vaccine, that’s actually a sign of a good immune response.
Sanitize Your School
Even if you’ve mastered the hand hygiene program, sanitizing surfaces in your school will be key to preventing any breakthrough infections.
Students and teachers spend most of their day in the classroom, so providing sanitizing wipes and other disinfectants can help teachers keep a healthy environment. With older students, you should create a program for students to sanitize their desk at the end of each class period, so that it’s safe for the next student who sits there.
But not everything is that easy to just wipe down. Your PE teacher might be staring at 30 dodgeballs and wondering how quickly they can be sanitized before the next group comes in, or your science teacher might wonder about the safety of sharing lab goggles among students. We’ve got a solution for those hard-to-disinfect items.
Sports-O-Zone is a sanitizing system designed to disinfect athletic gear, but it works wonders in the classroom as well. You can put any items that need to be disinfected right inside the chamber, and in just 32 minutes, Sports-O-Zone will eliminate any flu virus inside.
And coaches, you’ll want to get your hands on Sports-O-Zone, too. Keep players healthy and on the field all flu season long with safe and sanitized gear.
Want to stave off the flu this year? Learn more about Sports-O-Zone.