Hand washing: Keeping kids in school

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) – Pink eye, stomach bugs, flu, strep throat: the list can go on and on with reasons students miss school.

When one Louisiana school took a deeper look at absences from the previous school year, they incorporated a simple action plan to minimize school germs.

Handwashing stations at Immaculate Conception Cathedral School are put to use all in an effort to reduce the spread of germs at the root of many absences.

“In order to best educate them, we need them here and well.” Said Erin Lang, ICCS Director of Development

When Erin Lang and other school administrators reviewed absentee data from the previous school year, they knew something more needed to be done to keep students at their prime.

“If a good number of students are absent from a class, a teacher is unable to continue with a lesson, it can slow down the learning process, it makes it difficult for those students who are out for an extended period of time.”

Dr. Tyson Green with imperial health has two children who attend school here. He says the spread of germs is rapid on school campuses.

“Whether it’s bacterial or viral, you start talking about the flu, you start talking about stomach viruses and things like that. They’re going to get these with cross-contamination if they don’t wash their hands.”

So the solution came through these handwashing stations.

“What we found as the best way to protect our faculty and our students was basic handwashing with plain soap and water.” Said Lang

The biggest procedural change for students this year is that as soon as they walk into the school building they go straight up the hand washing stations. That’s the first wash of the day. Then every bathroom break gets another handwash, along with every entrance and exit from the school’s cafeteria.

Lang says the absentee numbers are already showing the success of the additional scrubbing.

“We have looked at our absentee rates from last year to this year, from the start of school through November, and we are already down 12 percent.”

The biggest test will be through the winter with cold and flu seasons.

The school administration will review absentee numbers again in the spring.

The handwashing stations cost $5,000 and were donated by Imperial Health.


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