Deb Group Offers Tips to Limit Absenteeism, Boost Handwashing This School Year

As millions of students have headed back to school, chances are just as many germs will be tagging along as well. Research from Johns Hopkins University suggests that as many as 7.5 million students miss a month of school each year. To help keep faculty and students healthy this school year, Deb Group shares illness prevention best practices.

“Illness prevention might seem like an easy concept; wash your hands, cover your nose and mouth when sneezing, and stay home if you are sick,” said Isabelle Faivre, vice president of marketing for Deb North America. “But many students and faculty don’t follow proper protocol, which can result in bacteria and infection spreading quickly throughout a school.”

The following best practices for illness prevention can help limit the spread of germs within a school:
1. Include handwashing time in student schedules. In order to stop germs from ever entering the body, handwashing is key. The CDC recommends scrubbing hands for at least 20 seconds. Handwashing time should be added before lunch, after recess and after engaging in other activities that contaminate the hands. Adding hand sanitizing stations in hallways and cafeterias can add another level of protection.
2. Implement flexible sick leave policies for faculty. According to a recent study, nearly 90 percent of workers surveyed admitted to showing up for work despite knowing they were contagious.1 Adding additional sick days for faculty, especially during cold and flu season, or allowing sick time to roll over from year to year, might reduce the number of contagious faculty members roaming the hallways.
3. Avoid the use of perfect attendance awards. A sick student may decide to go to school for fear of losing their perfect attendance status. A better option for schools could be implementing an “Excellence Attendance Award” that is attainable with a 95 percent attendance rate compared to a strict 100 percent.
4. Provide adequate hygiene supplies, including clean and functional handwashing stations. According to a recent study from the University of Arizona, about 25 percent of public restroom dispensers are contaminated with fecal bacteria. Soap dispensers are constantly touched by dirty hands, so it’s important to disinfect dispensers as part of an overall cleaning program. Schools should also look into manufacturers with added protection on their dispensers. Deb Group dispensers are protected with BioCote, a silver-based antibacterial agent that inhibits the growth of bacteria and molds.
5. Include hand hygiene in curriculum. School-based hand hygiene programs increase student knowledge, improve health and decrease absenteeism. Educating students at a young age on proper hand washing techniques will also help them establish lifelong hand washing habits.

To promote proper hand hygiene in schools, Deb Group recently launched its Happy Hands Contest. Schools and teachers are given access to a wide range of educational materials to promote proper hand hygiene and students are asked to submit a dispenser design that communicates the importance of good hand hygiene. The winning designs will be custom printed for free on up-to 500 manual Deb soap/sanitizer dispensers for use at the students’ school. The contest will also award the winning student in each category – elementary, middle and high school - with a $200 gift card. Each winning students’ school will also receive a $500 donation. Schools can pre-register for the contest online at info.debgroup.com/happyhands through Oct. 3, 2016.

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