Winter is here and boy do we know it! The time of colds, multiple layers, that niggling cough and your face freezing off. Being around children all day, especially the younger ones, who aren’t quite aware of hygiene as much as an older student, germs can be spread very easily and it is important to recognise ways to avoid the germs spreading as much as possible to avoid catching that nasty flu! Here are 12 tips and strategies to best keep the bugs at bay.
Place “germ juice” around the classroom
Station several pump dispensers of hand sanitizer in the classroom and encourage your students to use it. For maximum benefit, hand sanitizer should be alcohol-based, like Purell. Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer kills 99.9 percent of the most common germs that cause illness.
Add all-class hand washing breaks to the schedule
Even if your students are well-above the age of mass classroom potty visits, during cold and flu season it is always a good call to increase group hand washings. Stop in as a group after art or computer lab, when students may have touched germ-laden communal keyboards and supplies. These extra visits will help keep your class healthy (and therefore keep you healthy, too.)
Avoid touching faucets and fixtures
When you hit the restroom for those thorough hand washings, avoid touching the faucet and fixtures, which can harbor germs. You can use the paper towel used to dry your hands to also turn off the faucet and open the bathroom door when you exit.
Skip the sandwich
You already know to keep those germ-magnet hands away from your face, but you can also increase your chances of remaining healthy by keeping them off your food. Instead of packing your usual sandwich to eat with your paws, swap it for a salad or other food consumed with a fork.
Use your own pen and pencil
When stopping by students’ desks to help them with their work, resist the temptation to pick up their pencils when doling out that long-division assistance. Writing utensils can carry illness, so keep your own pens and pencils close by.
We totally get that exercising when temperatures drop is so hard. It seems much more civilized to stay sedentary with a good book and a cup of tea, right? But continuing or beginning a moderate exercise program will boost your immunity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity each day.
Getting enough Z’s is probably the easiest, and most enjoyable, way to purchase some insurance against illness. Sleep boosts your body’s immune function. Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night, but if you have been operating on a sleep deficit you may need a little more at first to catch up.
…and cauliflower and brussels sprouts. These cruciferous vegetables are rich in antioxidant vitamins that bolster your immune system. They also help your cells to function properly and if you do encounter a virus to fight off an infection.
Probiotics, the live, friendly bacteria that live in yogurt, can boost your immunities and help your bod fight a cold. Yogurt also contains zinc and vitamin A, important nutrients for healthy immune system function.
Find your happy
Studies have shown that people who are stressed or depressed are twice as likely to become sick. Even though you are busy, do not be afraid to put yourself, and your health, first. Make time for the people and activities that make you happiest. Play with pets, practice yoga, write in your journal, pray or meditate.
I know we’ve all heard about the importance of drinking more water. To help yourself remember to keep drinking water all day, try out different ways of flavoring the water (as we all know plain water is not appealing and can be boring after a while which can be a turnoff to continually drinking it). You can even try flavoring your water by adding fresh fruit, or just stick to liquid water enhancers, or even tea that can be drunk cold. Obviously, I recommend avoiding adding products with sugar, artificial sweeteners, or food coloring. Very beneficial for keeping those germs away, imagine it’s because you are constantly flushing all those germs right out of your body.
The Daily Wipe Down
This one is easy! During cold and flu season, create an end-of-day routine in your classroom where a few helpers go around the room with pre-moistened cleaning cloths and wipe down EVERYTHING! Wipe down desks, door handles, the classroom sink (if it has one), iPads, headphones, table tops and other shared furniture and supplies. It’s fun and helps keep the classroom clean! Win win!
And that’s it! You now know 12 straight-forward tips and strategies for avoiding illness even when you’re spending a day or multiple days per week in a cesspool of germs.