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How to Avoid Getting Sick as a Teacher

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teachers getting sick

If you think about it, our classrooms are like a petri dish. It’s almost impossible to avoid getting sick. There are multiple kids in our classrooms. That’s multiple drippy noses, double the dirty hands, and countless things that we all touch. I’ve seen an experiment with bread where you wipe the it on your phone, computer mouse, and hand to see which creates mold first. Can you guess which one is the winner?

Let’s be real, the colds can be a big deal and take a toll on everyone. I have had years where the illness has cut my class size in half and taken me out as well. I’ve also had situations where my paraprofessionals are sick and we go weeks without full staff during this time of year.

There are a few things we can do to not get sick. Here are some things that may seem simple but, super helpful!

Wash Your Hands to Avoid Getting Sick!

I know this seems so intuitive, but do we really remember to wash our hands randomly throughout the day? We touch so many surfaces and supplies. And likely, we only wash our hands before eating and after going to the restroom. Take a few moments throughout the day to wash your hands to avoid getting sick. It’s not such a bad idea to make it a daily activity for your class and in the special education world this is the perfect opportunity to use those task analyses!

Avoid Touching Your Face

There can be many reasons to touch your face, but really try to refrain from doing this during the school day. There may be a clump of mascara near your eye, an itch on your nose, or a piece of hair in your face. It’s putting yourself out there to get germs in your mouth, eyes, nose and ears! Or if you need to do it, wash your hands before and after doing it!

Make Hand Sanitizer a Routine!

avoid getting sick

When you can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizer for the bathroom as a restroom sign-out. I suggest, having a hand sanitizer bottle marked “girls” and a hand sanitizer bottle marked “boys”. When a child has to go, they put the sanitizer bottle on their desk. When they get back, they need to use the sanitizer before returning to their work. That way, you don’t even have to ask if they washed their hands. This is a routine to practice with your students!

Get Sleep, Exercise and Eat Healthy

I know this is much easier said than done to avoid getting sick. Watching Netflix can be more appealing after a long day at work than going to the gym. Eating quick snacks, like chips or cookies, is so tempting. Additionally, staying up late to put the finishing touches on lesson plans is tempting.

A well-rested and well-nourished body is less likely to get sick. So, be proactive and try things like meal prepping and scheduling out your workouts to make it easier to follow through!

Disinfect Surfaces and Shared Materials to Avoid Getting Sick

avoid getting sick

Some of my best friends are Clorox wipes, Lysol, and good old fashioned baby wipes. I have befriended my school custodian to supply some towels and student safe cleaner that gets used everyday. Have some students do this task as a classroom job . It will provide them with a responsible task.

At the end of the day, students can give the desks and other surfaces a quick wipe. Take that “community supply” caddy and spray them with Lysol. Also, those sensory toys and fidgets should be disinfected regularly.

If you think you need some of the things to avoid getting sick I’ve talked about I’ve got some links to help you get them quicker!

Touch High Traffic Areas Carefully

Use your hips or elbows to open and close doors, instead of using your hands. Take a wipe and put it over your hand before you pick up a dirty tissue that may have fallen on the floor. Wipe down items like the classroom phone, computer keyboards, and drawers that get used frequently. Call the custodian if there is a bodily fluid spilled in your classroom.

In conclusion, take sick days when you need them. So many teachers decided to push through when they are sick. I know it might seem like a lot of work to prepare for a sub, but please consider taking a sick day. (Maybe make emergency sub plans before you get sick so you can just pull one out?) Your body will heal quicker and you will be able to give more attention to your students because you will have more energy.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways to avoid sickness, but it is a good starting point.

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Lastly, getting sick is truly inevitable so, try my idea of a “Sub Station” by taking these materials that might work as independent practice for your student. You can set them up at a table where you or a paraprofessional might typically work with a student to fill in for the missing adult. Take a look at this type of material that I like to use.