Students in the United States miss more than a collective 164 million days of school because of illness. In the kindergarten through twelfth grade school system, that equates to an average 4.5 sick days per student per year.
This has implications not only for the quality of education for those students, but also for school funding. The Deb Group has reported that school districts across the country lose an average of $30 to $50 per student every year.
In a school district that serves 50,000 students at a $30 per student reimbursement rate, absenteeism of just 1 percent could add up to a loss of $15,000 per day. If each of those 50,000 students misses their average 4.5 days of school per year, unrealized revenue could quickly total into the millions of dollars.
Hand Hygiene Reduces Infection
New studies have revealed that reducing infections in schools can be accomplished with a simple and comprehensive hand hygiene program. In fact, one study reported by the Deb Group showed a hand hygiene program that reduced the number of students who missed more than four sick days by more than 60 percent.
Another study published by the Journal of School Nursing in 2009 highlighted the levels of surface contamination present in schools. The study examined the survival of viruses and bacteria on high touch surfaces in classrooms. Pencil sharpeners, faucet handles, water fountains, and paper towel dispensers were the most highly contaminated surfaces, including survival of the contagious Influenza A virus and Norovirus.
Shielding students from all infections is an unrealistic goal, but you can make a significant improvement in their health during the school year by instilling effective hand washing techniques in their daily routine. Wash hands with water and hand soap before every meal, after each time they use the bathroom, and after encountering high touch surfaces in classrooms.
Avoiding infection at school also means reducing the spread of bacteria and germs in your home. Many parents need to take time off from work to care for a sick child and become sick themselves in the process. Keep your whole household healthier by creating a culture of proper hand washing.
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