Back to School GermsChemicals and back to school – it is bugging me. A friend of mine told me her daughter was spraying Lysol at school for a classroom job and my jaw dropped. Yes there is hand sanitzer all over the place and yes schools still have to disenfect and santize but should the children really be spraying a toxic substance that says, “Keep out of the reach of children” and instructs people to use in well venilated areas and then wash hands? Classrooms are having children share crayons, scissors, pencils to promote community but then spraying the community items with chemicals. Wouldn’t it make more sense to not share these items, wash our own hands and not spray the stuff unecessarily? Can’t we teach sharing without having to go down this road and then wonder why so many children are missing school because of ashthma problems. With 6.2 million children having asthma and it being the leading cause of children missing school – one would think we raise an eyebrow and start to connect the dots.

The EPA is monitoring toxins in schools and indoor air pollution while theCDC is partnering with the makers of Lysol. Lysol holds a summit for school officials to help them learn about ways to use their disenfectant to keep schools safe from the flu this season. I wonder if the EPA attended this conference and talked about asthma, indoor air pollution, venelation and toxicity. Maybe they need to do some connecting of the dots and school officials need to recognize who’s holding the summit and what the sponsor has to gain – it isn’t out of the goodness of their hearts – there’s a bottom line.

Research has lead me to realize how far the greening schools movment has come and how far it has to go. People are reluctant to change but big companies Lysol are hard to beat when summits and big dollars are being spent. This is why a grass roots effort and campaigns like Healthy Schools and Cleaning for Healthy Schools needs to be promoted so there is more awarness and education.

As a past teacher who used bleach and Lysol I can safely tell you – I did not know. Now I do and I feel horrible but also recognize the need for a clean classroom. When I spoke with a custodian he asked me if he cleaned the desk why does he have to santize or disenfect it; it is clean. G-E-R-M-S!!!! We are all scared of this four letter word, germ.

My 3 Tips for a Clean and Healhy Classroom:

1. Wash hands. Have children wash hands often and for 5 Mississipis (1 Mississipi., 2 Mississippi., etc.) Don’t just assume this will happen, stand watch, help, role model.

2. Make Cleaning the Desks a Daily Classroom Job. Use a bucket of warm water and soap. Children love cleaning and this can easily be done and is not dangerous. Even a spray bottle with warm soapy water and a microfiber.

3. Sanitize and Disenfect with the lowest toxity level possible. All disenfectants have to be EPA approved which means they are a pesticide BUT there are safer ones that have a safer PH level and do not cause respitory problems. Healthy Schools has a guide and many suggestions for chosing a safer disenfectant. Do the sanitizing and disenfecting when the children are not in the classroom and open the windows for venelation.

If the children are washing their hands (germs down the sink) and washing their desks daily the classroom will be healthier. Children should stay home if they have a fever for at least 24 hours and be taught to sneeze in the crook of their arm to not spread the germs – even a 2 year old can learn to do this!

None of this means that Lysol needs to be sprayed all over objects to keep a classroom healthy. For teachers that feel door knobs should be cleaned or items like keyboards, shared items, etc., consider some rubbing alchol on a cotton ball when the children aren’t around or try For My Kids or a some vinegar in between the heavy duty cleaning that the custodians do.

Any other suggestions?

What do you have to lose?


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