I always say that being an educator would be the best job if it wasn’t for the parents, teachers and students. All kidding aside, this week I would add germs to that statement. Students were dropping like flies! Call after call came over the radio for clean ups in classrooms. Some of these kids came to school not feeling well. Why would parents send these kids to school? Some lost their lunch, literally, as the day progressed. I immediately went into protection mode, started hitting the hands with hand sanitizer and washing every chance I could. The nurse sent out a reminder email to teachers and let her supervisor know. It just reminded me of how easy the little buggers could attack us and send the best of us running for the trashcan.
I helped retrieve one of the student’s backpacks who was going home. As I was searching the backpack cabinet, I noticed that one little pink backpack had some hand sanitizer clipped to it. I started to think about Every Day Carry (EDC) for students and some of the items that parents could place in their backpacks in case they ever needed it. Of course, a student’s EDC is going to look a lot different than an adults…with all the laws and adults who freak out at the slightest idea that something useful could be used for evil. Here are some ideas if you have school age children. Some of these ideas will double as EDC items to carry and some of these items can be considered only during the cold and flu season.
1. Hand Sanitizer – I’ve already mentioned this above. It is not the end all to protect from germs and such, but I would rather have this than nothing at all.
2. Bottle of Water – One should be left in your child’s backpacks for emergencies, but during the cold and flu season, they should have one to drink water from. It is not a good idea to touch the water fountain. Most custodians clean the water fountains every evening, but they don’t get wiped down during the day. Your child should only drink from their own bottle.
3. Tissue – Most classrooms have tissues available, but the less your child needs to touch other items in the classroom the better.
4. Pencil Box w/ extra Crayons, Colored Pencils, Glue, Scissors and Pencils – Yes, you already bought school supplies. But in reality, these items are super cheap if you buy them at the big box stores when school starts. I’ve purchased Crayola Crayon boxes for .25/each. The issue here is that you don’t want to have your child borrowing supplies from others. They should have their own for their own use. T his will help mitigate the spread of germs. See the side story. Talk with your child’s teacher and let them know your expectations that they use their own school supplies to not spread germ.
5. Granola Bars, Fruit Roll-Ups or some other type of snack – Buses run late or have engine problems, parents sometimes run late, lunches get forgotten, etc… It’s just a good idea to have some extra snacks. Having a little bit of food can help an anxious kid relax a bit.
6. Phone Numbers – The school will have important numbers, but it is a good idea to have a list of important numbers, emergency numbers, etc…
7. A Few Band-Aids – Schools will have this too, but why not put a few in the EDC?
8. Flashlight – They are cheap and will give some legitimacy to the “important,” or “special” place in your child’s backpack.
9. Change of Clothes – This is common practice for our Kindergarten students. But it might be a great idea to have an extra t-shirt or socks.
10. Baby Wipes – Maybe I’m stretching it here…trying to get the list to an even #10. But in all honesty, I carry some in my backpack. From cleaning up a small stain from spilled coffee to wiping off a face or any other time a wet towel is needed, this is a great item to carry.
I think it is important to talk to your child about all the items in their EDC. They should know why they are carrying the specific items and when they should be used. They need to know that the EDC is not something they dig into every week or whenever they want. They should use the items in only “important” or “special” times. You’ll have to decide when those times are. And let me tell you that children, even at a very young age, can tell you why they have the items they are carrying and when they should use them. See the VID below.
Side Note about Germs – When I was a classroom teacher, every year I would tell this little story around the cold and flu season to remind students to wash their hands and not share pencils, etc…
“Billy is sitting in class and has the sniffles. He doesn’t realize it yet, but he is going to get sick. He wipes his nose with his hand, picks up his pencil and continues to work on his worksheet like a good student. After a few minutes, he puts down his pencil and gets up to get a tissue. While he is up, Sally’s pencil breaks and she returns it to the table tub to get sharpened. Since there isn’t another sharpened pencil, she picks up the one on the desk that she didn’t realize belonged to Billy. She starts working like a good student, but now the germs passed from Billy’s nose to his hands to the pencil to Sally’s hands.
As Sally is working, she yawns and rubs her eyes. The germs have now traveled from Billy’s nose to his hands to his pencil to Sally’s hands to her eyes. Later, at lunch, Sally eats the great sandwich her mom made for her. The germs have now passed from Billy’s nose to his hands to his pencil to Sally’s hands to her sandwich to her mouth. Now the germs are in Sally’s body and she will get sick too.”
Of course, students were all “yuck” and “gross” and stuff. But it drove home the germ issue for a little bit…I stress a little bit. Students need to continually be reminded to wash their hands and keep their hands on their own supplies.