All parents are concerned about sending their kids to school during a pandemic, and none more so than parents sending a child to kindergarten for the first time. Even with the American Academy of Pediatrics encouraging a return to the classroom, parents are still understandably nervous. Shortly before the Academy’s announcement, The National Parents Union reported that nearly two-thirds of moms and dads prefer schools stay closed until the COVID-19 health risk is gone. In response to the concern and uncertainty, many schools are taking an aggressive, multipronged approach to safeguarding students and staff, with effective efforts frequently having one key feature in common: special programs for teaching hand hygiene.
Kindergarten is the perfect time to teach hand washing and hygiene
Thankfully, some leading organizations are offering free handwashing programs that come complete with age-appropriate lesson plans, student workbooks, teacher manuals, activity cards, and even easy-to-use apps, like the one pictured below. Ella’s Hand Washing Adventure is a fun, free way to teach children ages 3 to 7 how to wash their hands the right way. You can download it from Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store.
By demonstrating to parents that your school takes a professional approach to teaching hand hygiene, you can help put them at ease about their children being safe back in the classroom.
Comprehensive hygiene keeps you safe at school, safe at home, and safe at work
Hygiene, of course, extends well beyond handwashing, and the benefits extend far beyond school. Parents will be looking over your entire facility and operation to gauge how comfortable they are with their children returning to classes. Schools need to have (and publicize):
- Clear policies for school absences during COVID-19: What symptoms indicate whether a student or teacher should stay out of school, and for how long?
- A stated cleaning regimen for classrooms and common areas: What areas and surfaces are cleaned daily, and which are cleaned between classes or during the day?
- A hand-hygiene program for teachers and staff: Do they know proper handwashing procedures? Are they aware of all occasions that require handwashing beyond the restroom, including after sharing equipment and keyboards, before and after eating, and following the handling of waste and recycling baskets?
- Visible hygiene reminders: After teaching hand hygiene to students and staff, are you continually reminding them with a communications program, from the morning announcements to posters in the hallways? Here again, many free resources for handwashing and hygiene are available for schools.
- Adequate supplies in evidence: Can your parents see hand sanitizer stations at the entrances and throughout the school? Are the restrooms well stocked, with high-capacity, touchless hand towel dispensers?
This toolkit can help ease the return to school for parents and teachers alike
It’s hard for any parent to send their pride and joy off to kindergarten even in the best of times. During COVID-19 it will be doubly difficult, so schools will serve them, and their children, well by preparing for, educating on and continually communicating about hand hygiene within a comprehensive program. For more ideas and free tools download the Safe at Work: COVID-19 Education Toolkit, developed by the global hand hygiene experts at Tork.
CDC: How to Protect Yourself and Others
Essity: Safe at Work: COVID-19 Educational Toolkit
Johns Hopkins University: Johns Hopkins Public Health Expert Fields Coronavirus Questions
The New York Times: Why a Pediatric Group Is Pushing to Reopen Schools This Fall
US News & World Report: Reopening America’s Schools