Fleeing the Flu: MCES creates innovative flu-fighting plan
Story by Meg Ferrante
Elementary school parents worried about flu epidemic this fall can rest assured their kids’ principal has been up at night thinking about it too.
“I just kept wondering what we could do to have the children wash their hands more frequently,” says Jean Triplett, MCES principal, “so we can be proactive with anything that comes up in the flu season. I thought maybe if we make a big deal of it… Get everyone involved… And what if we have one of those huge bottles of hand sanitizer in every classroom? Get the kids in the habit. It’s there, so let’s use it.”
Armed with enthusiasm and the desire to protect the kids, Triplett took her idea to her staff. And the staff has responded like a germ warfare specialty team: with a multi-front attack.
Coaches Dusty Hawkins and Kathy Hubbard are beefing up their hygiene lessons in health class. Students will have an opportunity to run their hands in dust and view the dirt under a black light to see what germs look like.
Art teacher Laura Rice is using the Smart Boards to create a bacteria and virus presentation, showing shapes and colors and having students draw their own colorful germs. She created a new slogan-- "Drown a Germ: Wash Your Hands”--which students are using to illustrate their own flu-fighting reminder bookmarks.
Music teacher Kathy Ellis has a group of kids working on anti-germ ditties to popular songs. One favorite: "Who Washed the Germs Out?" (to the tune of Who Let the Dogs Out?). Several students will have an opportunity to act in videos to be used on the morning news as a reminder to cover coughs and wash hands afterwards.
School nurse, Jill Cooper, has a direct stake in the effort as she will be the one getting sneezed on most when the season kicks into high gear. She embraced Triplett’s proactive efforts, especially after seeing a news report of a school in Dunwoody discussing elaborate plans to expedite the sick out of school. While important, she agrees, there was no discussion about prevention.
Cooper sees the students getting on board with the plan as quickly as teachers did. At this age, she says, it’s fairly easy to instill good habits.
“And they all like germs. Germs are cool," she says. "With the videos we’re making, the grosser the better. We’re planning on a really wet sneeze.”
Clips will be played on an ongoing basis throughout the year. And bookmark use will be encouraged, to keep the germ reminder close at hand.
“Our goal is to talk about it," Triplett says, "and say to kids ‘Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands….’ It’s the best way to protect yourself from getting sick.”
Triplett presented the plan to the PTO who asked how they could get involved. The board readily agreed to buy some of the industrial-sized sanitizer bottles for the classrooms.
Timing for this project is good, as the Centers for Disease Control just released updated action guidelines for schools to prevent the spread of flu. The guide is chock-a-block full of steps for educating, preventing and cleaning. But leave it to Morgan County Schools to take things a step further -- nowhere in the guide does it mention having fun in the process.