Clean Hands Keep Kids Healthy, Save Schools Money

One of the most important lessons kids should learn at school is how to practice good hand hygiene. As endearing as they are, children often fail to practice good hand hygiene, readily transmitting germs that cause illness and absenteeism. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that U.S. students miss 144 million school days per year due to illness. Meanwhile, parents miss more than 100 million work days per year to care for sick children, and each teacher may miss a week of school per year on average because of illness.


Illness also contributes directly to increased operating costs due to hiring substitute teachers, the rising cost of healthcare, and loss of public funding because of attendance issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognize hand hygiene (hand washing, hand sanitizing and moisturizing) as the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection. By using effective products and a well-planned system, school facility managers can encourage more hand washing and sanitizing, reduce absenteeism and save significant costs.

It’s important to recognize areas where germs thrive, including auditoriums, cafeterias, classrooms, restrooms, gyms, libraries, locker rooms, nurses’ offices and administrative offices. Many areas need more than soap.

Sanitizers and Foam Soap

Hand sanitizers such as PURELL® Instant Hand Sanitizer are extremely effective in preventing the spread of infectious disease and reducing absenteeism. More than 6,000 elementary school students in four states participated in a 10-month case study which showed that placing instant hand sanitizer in classrooms reduced sick days by nearly 20 percent for students studying there. PURELL kills 99.99 percent of most common germs that may cause illness, and can be used wherever soap and water are not available. Where soap and water is used, consider replacing liquid soap with foam soap. People – especially kids – prefer the feel of foam soap to typical lotion soaps, and children are more likely to wash their hands regularly with it.

Foam soap can also save product and maintenance costs. Initial price per gallon of foam soap may be higher than liquid soap, but a 2000ml foam soap refill provides 2,850 hand washes, while the same amount of typical cream soap offers only 700 to 750 hand washes. Foam soap refills are replaced less often than lotion soaps, are easy to switch out and childproof, and some foam dispensers are guaranteed for life. They also waste less: Users of bulk-pour liquid soap or 55-gallon drums can experience up to 25 percent product waste.

The Best Locations
Placement is a key thing to consider. Hand hygiene products must be located where students and faculty need them. According to a 2005 survey, 70 percent of faculty surveyed said that classrooms are not disinfected on a regular basis by custodial staff. It’s recommended that each classroom have hand hygiene products readily available so that students and teachers can easily remove germs from their hands without leaving the room.

Kids prefer the feel of foam soap over liquid soap and are more likely to wash regularly.

Efficient dispenser systems can make all the difference. Small squeeze bottles and pumps often get lost, misplaced or thrown away. Open reservoir dispensers are labor intensive, wasteful, and can become contaminated. Small-capacity dispensers are frequently empty. Dispensers that leak or break defeat the purpose entirely by not being available for use and wasting product.

Finally, reinforce healthy habits with a proven hand hygiene curriculum. GOJO’s Healthy Hands, Healthy Kids® program is designed to promote hand hygiene and helps identify wellness control points throughout school facilities. It includes age-appropriate curricula, teacher’s guide, videotapes, student materials, classroom experiments, signage and student incentives.

Information courtesy of GOJO.

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