News of swine flu epidemics in schools and the last vestiges of contagion may have dwindled, but that doesn't mean that classroom cleanliness isn't still a safety concern.
Classrooms are a place where students spend a large portion of their day in close proximity to 20 or more other children. Experts warn that a classroom's cleanliness has a direct impact on the health of its students and their ability to learn.
In a 2008 national study titled "Cleanliness and Learning in Higher Education," a professor at Brigham Young University found that classroom cleanliness affects a student's learning ability. Nearly 90 percent of the almost 1,500 students surveyed said the lack of cleanliness becomes a distraction when learning.
Classroom conditions are not just a matter of providing a good place to learn. Frequent cleaning helps eliminate some of the factors that contribute to poor indoor air quality and the spread of communicable diseases. Cold and flu viruses can thrive on surfaces for a few minutes and up to two days, depending on the surface and the virus or bacteria, says The Mayo Clinic. Coming in contact with these surfaces can make little children ill.
Clutter in the school and classroom contributes to the accumulation of dirt and dust, which can compromise air quality. It also provides breeding grounds and hiding spots for insects and rodents. Rodents and insects then contribute with their own "dirt" in the way of feces and dander.
If parents learn through their children or through personal observation that classrooms do not seem clean, the matter can be brought to the attention of school personnel. There are some other guidelines that can be followed to help promote classroom cleanliness.
* Send children in with hand sanitizers and antibacterial tissues to control the spread of germs.
* Find out if the teacher needs any cleaning supplies, such as disinfectant wipes or sprays.
* Teach children that frequent hand-washing is one of the key ways to help minimize germs.
* Set up a Facebook page or e-mail list where school parents can converse about classroom issues. Then solutions can be posted in these forums.
* Discover whether budgetary issues have resulted in cuts to janitorial staff, which could affect school maintenance.
* Volunteer time or services to help clean-up areas of the school that may need attention.
* Talk with the PTA or school officials if there are particularly dangerous areas of concern.
* Don't send children to school if they are ill. Make accommodations to have them watched if you must go to work.
* Practice cleanliness around the house and make keeping rooms and play spaces tidy a rule of the home.
Classroom cleanliness is important in the personal health, safety and success of students.