Handwashing effect on elementary school absenteeism

Absenteeism due to infection is a major problem in both public and private educational institutions, especially at the elementary level. Hands are the primary mode of transmission of many infectious diseases, particularly among school-aged children.

Teaching children appropriate hand hygiene practices can potentially result in the reduction of the spread of infection and the resulting lost learning days due to absenteeism. A handwashing program for elementary school students, which included classroom presentations and follow-up, was found to result in a significant decrease in absenteeism due to illness during the 2 months after the presentations.

Education combined with accessible convenient hand hygiene was found to result in a significant increase in the frequency of handwashing among elementary school children.Hand hygiene interventions have also been found to promote wellness in preschool child care. Handwashing helped to reduce colds at a child care center when frequent handwashing practices were incorporated into the curriculum through an intervention program.

Similarly, hand hygiene and other interventions significantly reduced symptoms of enteric disease (diarrhea and vomiting) in family day care centers.


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