Staying healthy reduces absenteeism and helps students succeed

Partners Post, September 2014

Did you know that the common cold results in 22 million missed school days each year for American students? That’s a lot of lost learning time for students, not to mention the discomfort, medical bills, additional care arrangements, and other concerns that come with unexpected sick days.

The good news is that hand-washing can reduce lost school days by as much as 26 percent. Avoiding germs through good hygiene makes a real difference.

Here are some simple, effective measures that work to limit the spread of germs:

  • Hand-washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs in a classroom, so teach your children to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly. To effectively wash away germs, use soap and scrub in between fingers, under fingernails, and on the front and back of hands. Children should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds (the time it typically takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice or the entire verse of the ABC song).

  • Focus your children on good hand-washing routines, especially at times when they are most likely to spread germs: before eating or handling food; after using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose; when coming in from playing outside; after touching used tissues, garbage, or contaminated surfaces; and after touching a pet.

  • Teach your children to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water are not available. Use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol to help decrease the number of germs on hands. Make certain your child has this product available in his backpack and in her desk or locker.

  • In addition to routinely washing hands, teach your children to cover their mouths with an arm rather than a hand when coughing or sneezing, to dispose of tissues rather than leaving them out, and to avoid sharing beverages, food, or utensils.

Get more information on healthy habits from the Healthy Habits School Program, a joint effort of Lysol, the National PTA, and the National Education Association (NEA).



Return to Partners Post




Sign Up for Partners' Emails

Get the latest news and information from Partners for Public Education.

Email address: