Avoiding germiest places in schools

Research suggests water fountain, lunch tray among germiest

Photo does not have a caption

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many students in our area are back in the classroom for day two of the new school year, and the last thing any of us want is for them to get sick.
Health officials and school teachers want to remind parents and students about staying healthy and that includes avoiding the germiest places in schools.

Teachers commonly refer to it as the Back-to-School Plague.
On average, elementary school children get eight to 12 colds or cases of the flu each school year according to the CDC.

For the older kids, it is about half that.

Five-year-old Coady Shiels is back in the classroom in St. Johns County. He knows what he needs to do to prevent getting sick.

"If you wash your hands, you'll get the germs off," said Cody.

His dad said he learned healthy habits in pre-school.

"As long as he has good hygiene and washes his hands, in general, keeps his hands clean and keeps his hands out of his mouth. Those are the big things," said Bill Sheils.

Experts say the germiest place in a school is the drinking fountain, partially because it doesn't get disinfected that often.

Plus, it's the perfect spot for kids to ingest these microorganisms as they put their mouths on the stream of water or right on the fountain itself.

A University of Colorado researcher Dr. Harley Robart suggested that kids run the water a little first, and then drink.

That researcher also said cafeteria trays are another germ hot spot because they often don't get wiped down.

He recommended kids use hand sanitizer before picking up their food.

Another way to stay healthy is to get rest. The CDC said school-aged children should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep each day. Sleep deprivation lowers the body's immune system.

Dr. Robart said kids should also run around for 40 minutes a day, eat foods rich in Vitamin C and get a flu shot .

He also said hand washing correctly is important too, especially after using the restroom and before they go to lunch.

"They want to scrub their hands for, at least, 20 seconds. If they sing the ‘Happy Birthday Song' in their head while they're doing it, that's the amount of time they need to wash their hands and then rinse and then dry," said Julington Creek Elementary nurse, Lisa Norton.

Research shows 28-percent of kids don't know how to wash their hands properly.

Researchers said it's stunning how often kids touch their faces and then touch other kids, so kids should keep their hands away from their face.

They also said they should use hand sanitizer after sneezing and that they should cover their coughs.