How to prevent colds in the classroom

Flu season, it’s a dreaded time for teachers and students alike. A much as we love them, sadly, children aren’t the most cleanly of creatures – just watching them in the playground reinforces that; from digging in the ground, to swapping food like a business, students come in contact with germs in a myriad of ways.


Unfortunately, this means the classroom is an ideal breeding ground for colds. But that doesn’t mean you WILL get sick in the colder months. Luckily, there are some things you can do to prevent a mass outbreak of the sniffles – and best of all they’re relatively easy to implement. What’s not to love about that?

Get your flu shot

First things first, get yourself protected. The annual flu vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect yourself from the bug. People who do opt to get it are at lower risk of getting an infection, and it being serious, than those who do not. As a teacher coming in contact with students we cannot recommend this enough. 

Implement “hand-sanitizer stations” around the classroom

Add several dispensers of hand sanitizer around the classroom and encourage your students to use them. The most effective sanitizers are alcohol-based. These will kill 99.9% of the bacteria on hands, 30 seconds after application. Before implementing, however, check with your principal if it’s ok. If she or he can roll this out school-wide it will be even more effective.

Increase hand washing breaks

We recommend doing this after children come in contact with communal equipment, such as computers or art rooms. Group hand washing also reinforces the behaviour and makes sure the job is done thoroughly.

Encourage children to use their own pens and pencils

Writing equipment are germ carriers as they often come into contact with the hands and mouths. Wherever possible encourage students to use their own pen and pencils. This should go for you as the teacher as well, resist the urge to use students’ writing tools when checking work, and always carry your own.

Be aware of germs on taps and door handles

Taps and door handles are other notorious breeding grounds for germs as they come in contact with grubby hands. To protect yourself, avoid touching them if possible. Use a paper towel to open and close them in the cooler months, and then finish up with some of that hand sanitizer you’ve placed around the classroom.