Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to turn you into a “germaphobe,” (which I don’t think would be a bad thing, I do have some “germaphobic” tendencies myself). Simply these are tips I use to help myself from getting sick.
Like most teachers, I get sick all the time. Kids usually have difficulties with sharing, but not when it comes to germs! I have literally had a student sneeze on their paper, and then hand it to me (of course I didn’t collect it until I put on rubber gloves, a mask, and continued to spray it with with Lysol until it was crispy). So here are some ways to protect yourself against your generous students:
- Don’t eat and grade papers simultaneously. Again, refer back to my comment about the kid sneezing on his paper. Kids are picking their nose, rubbing their eyes, and spreading their germs all over their work. If you touch it, then feed yourself, it only makes sense that you are going to catch what they have.
- Sanitize EVERYTHING!! Ok, maybe not everything, but pay attention to what your students touch most: door handles, desks, the sink, the classroom phone, computer keyboards, etc. I love using Clorox Wipes to clean these items, they have been a life-saver (or more appropriately, a health-saver).
- Don’t allow kids to take work home when they’re sick. This will depend on what your school policy is for absent kiddos. We have a pretty open policy at our school (which I don’t like very much), but if a kid is sick, the parent can come to school to pick up any work they missed. I usually tell them that I prefer the student wait until they get back to collect the work they missed. Think about it though: If a kid a sick and they’re completing their missed work from school, they’re getting all their germs all over their work and then turning it into you. Then you’re going to get sick and probably infect some of your students, so it’s really best for your health if you wait until they return to school.
- Keep sanitizer readily available. I keep red buckets at each desk group filled with items the kids use on a daily basis. One of these items is hand sanitizer. The students have access to it whenever they need it, especially right after sneezing or blowing their nose.
- Teach your students how to sneeze or cough in their arm. I like to refer to this as the Dracula method. Getting them to cover their germs with their arm eliminates the amount of germs on their hands, which means fewer germs you come in contact with.
There you have it. Stay healthy, teachers!