Scrub a dub?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 6, 2007

An NSF International survey conducted in November 2006 discovered that getting students to wash their hands in elementary schools has become more difficult even though teachers spend a greater amount of time teaching children about hand washing.

The survey was conducted among 500 K-5 teachers to learn more about beating germs in national elementary schools. 42 percent of teachers responded that it was harder to get students to wash their hands than it is to complete homework assignments.

Survey results aside, Butler County Superintendent Mike Looney said school administrators and teachers continue to reinforce hand washing for students.

&#8220In addition to teaching students to wash their hands during restroom visits, many of our teachers maintain additional hand washing supplies within their classrooms and provide students with multiple opportunities to disinfect throughout the day,” said Looney. &#8220It is not uncommon to see a teacher holding an antibacterial soap dispenser giving each student a squirt of soap on the way out the door to the next location.”

Additional findings of the survey:

n The older children get, the dirtier they get. 39 percent of fourth and fifth grade teachers and 34 percent of second and third grade teachers report that their students are guilty of multiple bad hand washing habits, such as not washing their hands before eating or after they use the bathroom.

n 84 percent of teachers say parents send a sick child to school all or some of the time due to the fact that a child may be unable to stay at home.

n 14 percent of teachers correctly identified the drinking fountain as one of the &#8220germiest” surfaces in the school.

n 86 percent of teachers reported using hand sanitizing gel to help clean kids' hands.

n 86 percent of teachers clean classrooms themselves to supplement janitorial services in schools.

&#8220Hand washing is the easiest, most important thing we can do to prevent the spread of illness, but kids are kids and they don't always remember to wash their hands when they should,” said William Fisher, vice-president of NSF International.

NSF International, an independent, not-for-profit organization, was founded in 1944, and helps certify products and write standards for food, water, air and consumer goods.