In the first couple months of this year, a significant number of Manhattan Country School students and staff members were out sick. A nasty bug was going around. With so many in the community affected, School Nurse Katie Patterson and Lower School Science Teacher Olivia Kurz decided to team up to educate students about effective handwashing to prevent the spread of illness-inducing germs and bacteria.
During her science classes with the 7-8s, 8-9s and 9-10s, Olivia asked students to put lotion on their hands and then wash them as they normally would. She didn’t tell them that the lotion was a special ultraviolet light reactive lotion designed to simulate germs. When the students finished washing, she shined a ultraviolet light on their hands. Many of the students saw white spots, which represented germs they had missed when washing. Olivia also shined the light on the soap dispenser and faucet, which illustrated how easily germs and bacteria can be transferred.
Olivia and Nurse Katie worked with the students to identify the most effective ways to wash one’s hands. Helpful habits include scrubbing one’s hands with soap for at least 20 seconds; making sure to scrub one’s wrists, the back of one’s hands and between one’s fingers; and using a paper towel or elbow to turn off the water to prevent picking up germs.
The 9-10s students have created illustrated handwashing guides and PSAs that are on display in bathrooms throughout MCS. The students hope that sharing this knowledge will help reduce the spread of germs throughout the school community.