Students are exposed to a variety of germs and unhealthy foods at school that can lead to obesity and other health issues, including colds and flu, which can cause them to miss multiple days of classwork.
Ironically, they are exposed to these germs at some of the most unavoidable places on campus.
Some of the most unhealthy places include water fountains and, ironically, one of main tools used in education — computer keyboards.
Not to be overlooked, backpacks and lunchboxes are also exposed to a wide variety of germs and can be breeding grounds for disease.
These areas must be regularly cleaned to avoid outbreaks of flu, the virus of which, studies have shown, can potentially infect a person for up to 48 hours after being deposited on a surface.
According ABC News, an experiment by a 13-year old boy in Oregon showed that the water in a toilet was cleaner than the water in the school’s drinking fountain.
The experiment was conducted after the school banned bottled water on campus.
“The toilet water is usually cleaner with regard to bacteria because toilets get continuously flushed, whereas a water fountain is left open to the environment,” Dr. Phillip Tierno of New York University Medical Center told ABC. “You know that toilets are occasionally washed, but I’ve never seen a water fountain sanitized at all.”
The best way to avoid the germs is by teaching students to wash their hands. According to research done at Michigan State University, only 5 percent of people interviewed washed their hands long enough to kill germs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, handwashing is a “do-it-yourself” vaccine that can prevent the spread of germs and help people avoid getting sick. The proper steps are wet, lather, scrub — for at least 20 seconds — then rinse and dry.
School supplies like backpacks and lunchboxes should be sanitized daily with disposable wipes because they are constantly exposed to places where germs are present, including floors, desktops, lockers and gyms. Most backpacks these days can be placed in the washing machine.
“Many backpacks or school bags will come with instructions on washing and should be followed,” says Dr. Paul Horowitz, medical director of Pediatric Clinics at Legacy Health System in Portland, Ore. “Disinfecting wipes work really well for nonporous surfaces like lunchboxes.”
School officials should make sure schools are cleaned properly. Doorknobs, keyboards, faucet handles, desks and countertops should all be disinfected on a daily basis.
Parents also have to do their part to make sure their children don’t get sick by developing in them healthy habits in the kitchen and when they are doing housework.
Horowitz warns parents to wash their hands before making children’s lunches, especially after doing the laundry when they handle dirty, germ-infested clothing.
Horowitz also recommends parents establish regular bed times for students and, most importantly, breakfast, which he is a must to help maximize problem solving abilities throughout the day.
Skipping breakfast can mean decreased cognitive performance in areas like alertness, attention, memory and problem
According to WebMD, a healthy and balanced lunch is a requirement for maximum efficiency. The idea lunch includes, fruit, veggie sticks, and a protein source, such as a turkey or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Although younger kids are often taught to share, they should be taught the opposite when it comes to food.
“Don’t share sips from juice boxes — especially during cold and flu season,” said Dr. Neil Schachter, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai in New York City and the author of the Good Doctor’s Guide to Cold and Flu. “To make sure your child doesn’t do this, pack two.”
Flu season spans from November through March, while cold season runs from about September until March or April.