Handwashing in School

Posted on: Mon, 09/15/2008 - 4:51am
DFab's picture
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Joined: 09/15/2008 - 11:20

Hi!

My son has tree nut and gelatin food allergies and in 1st grade. There is one other child in his class with a peanut and tree nut allergy. We parents have chosen not to make the room nut or gelatin free. Everyone washes their hands a lot going into the classroom as well as their desks and their hands whenever there is food eaten in the classroom. I was wondering if anyone knows exactly how the food proteins are neutralized by hand washing with soap. The reason for my question is the students are losing 90 minutes of actual class instruction time due to the hand washing that is currently taking place. It takes them 10 minutes for all 20 kids to wash their hands and if they wash their hands 9 times, that's a whole lot of time being used up. So we are all trying to figure out how we can get the hand washing done in less than 10 minutes each time they do wash. The school asked if I knew whether or not the food proteins would still be neutralized if everyone shared a basin of warm soapy water? In other words all the kids would use the same basin of soapy water and just rinse their hands afterwards at the sink. Would this really work or would it just be a huge contaminated water basin filled with soapy water and potential food allergens? It didn't sound too great to me, but I honestly don't know if it is safe?

Posted on: Mon, 09/15/2008 - 9:24am
cristym's picture
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Joined: 11/19/2007 - 17:26

I am a bit confused by the 90 minutes. How many times a day do they eat?
Start school...wash hands 10 min (which should be when they walk in the door so some of it could be before instruction would actually start.)
Snack... wash hands 10 min
Lunch... wash hands 10 min
As far as the soapy bucket, I do not know if it is sanitary or not. On a personal level it would make me gag.

Posted on: Mon, 09/15/2008 - 10:33am
DFab's picture
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Joined: 09/15/2008 - 11:20

Actually, they have been washing their hands 8-9 times a day depending upon how many specialty classes they go to (i.e., music, computers, art, P.E-twice a week, library) outside of the classroom. For instance on a Wednesday:
1 Wash hands enter room 1st thing in morning
2 Wash hands before 10:30 am snack in room
3 Wash hands & desks after snack & before recess
4 Wash hands come into room from recess then go to Art
5 Wash hands come into room from Art, have class then go to recess
6 Wash hands come into room from recess, before going to lunch
7 Wash hands after lunch, have class then go to Computers
8 Wash hands come into room from Computers have class
9 Wash hands before getting on bus.
I actually think this is excessive, there are more than a few children in the school with allergies and at least 3 with severe nut allergies.

Posted on: Mon, 09/15/2008 - 10:34am
Mrsdocrse's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2007 - 09:00

How come 2 or 3 can't wash at the same time.. ? Is there running water in class room? can't a few of them soap up and all take turns rinsing?

Posted on: Mon, 09/15/2008 - 10:36am
GeGe's picture
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Joined: 06/26/2008 - 16:11

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I worked in schools in various states for many years. The kids do NOT really "wash" their hands. If you're lucky, they run them through the water, dry with one paper towel and/or their jeans. No matter how many lessons on handwashing they have or how many signs are up around the school, even the ones who swipe at the soap dispenser only give a quick rub, then sort of rinse. The teachers are usually in the hall with the rest of the class lined up, keeping order and thinking about the next segment of lessons and do not have the time to go into the bathroom and stand over kids to make sure they scrub their hands.
Even if you have truly taught your own child how to thoroughly wash his/her hands, that child will NOT have the time to stand at the sink and wash properly. It's rush in, rush out and get back to class. The 10 minutes they are quoting you includes every child in the class going to the bathroom, not just washing hands and that's usually twice a day, not 9 times.
I've never worked in a school where the kids washed their hands before they ate lunch. There just isn't time.
Ethel

Posted on: Mon, 09/15/2008 - 10:39am
DFab's picture
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Joined: 09/15/2008 - 11:20

Yes, there is a sink in the classroom (maybe 2?), I guess they could do that, I'm not exactly sure how they do it. I only know that they said it takes 10 minutes for all 20 each time. The other factor may be that the whole school has snack at 10:30 at the same time and everyone is washing hands before and 2 full classrooms are also washing hands after snack and they commented that they have even run out of water due to all the hand washing.

Posted on: Mon, 09/15/2008 - 11:42pm
stephklem's picture
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Joined: 02/03/2006 - 09:00

Gotta stick my two cents in here. Hope you don't mind DF! There is a sink in the classroom, and the children are observed washing by the room aide, who makes sure that they soap up. The ten minutes doesn't include going into the bathroom, since they wash in the classroom. It takes 10 minutes because they do make sure the kids wash thoroughly. We are looking at a couple of different ways to try and make it a little less time consuming. One of them is that all the kids will use hand sanitizer prior to snack and lunch (except for the FA kids who will wash with soap and water).
Any ideas are more than welcome!

Posted on: Tue, 09/16/2008 - 2:47am
cristym's picture
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Joined: 11/19/2007 - 17:26

I think everyone will have diff comfort zones here, but I would personally be ok with the following schedule for the kids in my sons class. I think you should ask your allergist too, his or her opinion should be weighed in as more important then mine. :)
soap and water - 1 Wash hands enter room 1st thing in morning
hand sanitizer - 2 Wash hands before 10:30 am snack in room
soap and water - 3 Wash hands & desks after snack & before recess
hand sanitizer - 4 Wash hands come into room from recess then go to Art
hand sanatizer - 5 Wash hands come into room from Art, have class then go to recess (ofcourse the art materials should be allergin free)
hand sanitizer - 6 Wash hands come into room from recess, before going to lunch
soap and water - 7 Wash hands after lunch, have class then go to Computers
hand sanitizer - 8 Wash hands come into room from Computers have class
hand sanitizer - 9 Wash hands before getting on bus.

Posted on: Sun, 08/18/2013 - 10:05pm
Mrsdocrse's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2007 - 09:00

HI There,
Just some thoughts. If your child is in the 4th grade he should be pretty well educated about his allergy and is old enough to help keep himself safe. He probably makes sure he washes his hands before eating and HE is keeping his hands out of his mouth. (My son was a nail biter for a while, yikes!) I know that my sons school does not have a hand washing policy ( he is in middle school) But if you think about it, now that he is older they don't have snack time in the classroom, so the only place there is food is cafe. That should reduce the change of exposure. If he plays and sits with a group of friends maybe they could wash hands after lunch. Is he at the same school as before? My son still carries "handi wipes" with his epi pen to wipe off a table or his hands when he needs to and there isn't soap and water available. There will always be anxiety and new complications at every new stage. ( now I worry about him kissing a girl that may not be aware) I would talk to your Doctor about your fears and discuss the severity vs risk before I would home school. For us, my son is anaphylactic to peanuts only if ingested. moderately allergic to shellfish. So, if he came in contact with nuts he would just get hives. Washing the area and benadryl took care of it.
Good Luck

Posted on: Mon, 08/19/2013 - 11:38am
Player11753's picture
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Joined: 08/16/2013 - 17:12

How about putting a brand new pear of disposable rubber gloves in his lunch bag every day and he can only touch his own food with the gloves?
Other than that he can take care not to ever touch his eyes, nose, or mouth with his hands unless he washes his hands immediately before. This is a good practice for anyone to follow to prevent colds anyway.

Posted on: Mon, 08/26/2013 - 4:23am
cmarie234's picture
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Joined: 08/26/2013 - 10:52

My daughter just started first grade at the same school she went to for kindergarten. Last year there was hooplah because her doctor's action plan for her stated that all students must wash their hands after they eat. The school could not do this for two reasons, 1) they can't MAKE students wash their hands, and 2) there's not enough time (lunch and recess are only 20 minutes each and there aren't that many sinks). So my compromise was to provide hand-wipes (we personally provided them to the school) for the cafeteria attendants to offer to each child if the student said they had peanut butter.... The doctor said that hand wipes, not hand sanitizer, would do the job also.
This year, however, they are saying she is old enough to keep herself safe (by not touching her face). They don't want to even be bothered with offering the wipes. They say other students in the school have peanut allergies and they do not make these accommodations for them.
I'm baffled. I'm baffled that all parents of students with food allergies don't feel that other students not washing their hands after eating puts their child at risk. I'm baffled the medical professionals that work for the school system don't read the latest recommendations for keeping students safe in school. I'm baffled that the school system isn't more concerned about the safety of their students. And I'm baffled that the commenters to this post seem to be putting this back on you. Socialization during the grade school years is like walking a tight rope. The last thing our kids need is to worry about what so-and-so had for lunch!
So good luck to you and me both!

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