It’s that time of year again—when your students walk through your doors bringing all their germs with them. When they share viruses along with their crayons or pass the flu around along with their notes.
Even if you’re a veteran teacher who has become immune to most of these classroom sicknesses, flu season still strikes fear in your heart. This year, stop germs in their tracks with a classroom cleaning regime that will keep you and your students healthier through flu season.
5 Ways to Keep Your Classroom Clean During Flu Season
1. Start With the Students Themselves
One of the best ways to limit the spread of germs in your classroom is to help your students learn proper flu season etiquette. You can’t spray them all down with disinfectant as they walk through your doorway, but you can teach them a few tips for keeping themselves healthy. Whether you work with young kids or older students, it’s never too late to learn the Vampire Cough Method. You can also encourage your students to wash their hands more frequently throughout the day, and teach them proper hand washing techniques. The number one way that the flu and other diseases spread in the classroom is through hand contact, so teaching students the proper way to wash their hands will go a long way toward keeping the flu at bay.
2. Get Your Class Involved
There’s no reason that you have to be a one-person germ defense in your classroom. Numerous educational studies demonstrate that classroom jobs help students feel more important and needed, give them a better sense of personal responsibility, make them more community minded, and promote better behavior. During flu season especially, give two or three students the responsibility of wiping down desks after class with cleaning wipes while others are responsible for cleaning any tablets, Chromebooks, or class sets of books that you used that day.
Or, you can even make a few minutes of cleaning into a fun, whole class activity. Give each student a disinfectant wipe, turn on some music, and tell them to dance and wipe down the classroom during the song. Your entire room will be sparkling and disinfected in no time. For younger students, try using shaving cream to get their desks clean. Give each student a handful of foam, spread it on their desks, and ask them to trace their letters or draw in the foam before wiping it back off. Your desks will look restored and be squeaky-clean, germ-free surfaces for learning.
3. Clean Your Classroom Technology
One-to-one districts, Chromebook classrooms, Apple classrooms, interactive displays, and personal learning devices have revolutionized the way we teach and learn. However, the technology you use in your classroom can foster germs and spread sickness, too. Especially those class sets of laptops or tablets that get shared by multiple students throughout the day. Here are a few tips for how to disinfect your laptops and other classroom technology.
- Laptops and Keyboards. Remember back in the 80’s when that big study came out showing that our phone handsets carried more germs than a toilet seat? Turns out, the same thing is true of keyboards, which harbor germs from unwashed hands. But you don’t have to buy special computer cleaning wipes to disinfect your classroom laptops and keyboards. An NPR study demonstrated that regular, commercially available cleaning wipes such as Clorox Disinfecting Wipes are both safe and effective on keyboards, ridding the surface of bacteria and preventing regrowth for several days. Simply wring out any excess liquid before cleaning and press gently over the keys and screen.
- Tablets and Personal Devices. Similar to keyboards, your classroom tablets, smartphones, and other personal devices tend to be covered in germs. While there are specialty cleaning wipes available, the standard disinfecting wipes you use on the rest of your classroom surfaces work just as well. So does a mixture of distilled water and isopropyl alcohol. Be sure to use a microfiber cloth to avoid scratching the screen—or give each student a small piece of felt as a budget-friendly way to clean smudges.
- Interactive Displays. Clear Touch® interactive displays promote collaborative learning with 20 points of simultaneous touch—but you don’t want to promote the spread of germs at the same time. To clean, simply wipe the screen gently with a microfiber cloth. Use a gentle cleaner only, and don’t use paper towels or other fabric and never clean with alcohol, acetone, ammonia or other harsh chemicals. Anything harsh can create micro scratches on the surface of your interactive display, which will dull the LCD screen over time. Finally, if your display gets shared between classrooms on a mobile stand, be sure to quickly wipe down the stand as well before sending the display to the next classroom.
4. Get Rid of Germs in One Pass
Stringing beads. Math manipulatives. Counting toys. Magnetic building tiles. If you teach in an early education classroom, you know exactly what we’re talking about. The bins and bins of small, handheld teaching aids that help your students learn math while improving their fine motor skills. Unfortunately, all these small items are the perfect breeding ground for germs and nearly impossible to clean individually—even if you had the time. Instead, why not take them home in a mesh laundry bag and toss them in the dishwasher overnight? Germs gone. Sanity saved.
5. Keep the Air Fresh and Clean
Between sports practice, gym class, and recess, kids and teens can get stinky throughout the day. Cleaning the hard surfaces in your classroom is one thing, but fabrics such as bean bags, pillows, or sofas can not only absorb these lingering odors but also be a hideout for germs. Invest in a product like Clorox 4 in 1 or an all-natural, organic refresher like Counter Culture Air & Fabric Refresh. A few quick sprays of any cloth surfaces and the surrounding air will eliminate odors and germs. A charcoal odor absorber is another natural, eco-friendly way to eliminate unwanted smells in the classroom.
It’s important that you’re able to take care of yourself during this time of year so your classroom can keep running smoothly. So, drink lots of fluids, get your rest, send sick kids to the nurse quickly—and keep your classroom as clean and germ-free as possible.
Keeping your classroom clean and healthy during flu season doesn’t mean that you have to become OCD or a total germaphobe. And, you can still give that struggling student a quick hug. By incorporating a few, simple cleaning activities into your normal classroom routine, you can help your students and yourself stay healthier this year.