Should Schools Use Hand Gel?

There are lots of Public Relations firms out there who are keen to enlist the help of bloggers to promote all manner of things. Some bloggers make a living from their reviews as well as getting lots of products. This blog is not ‘up for grabs’ for PR firms but I am happy to consider their requests over at Julia’s Place.

I was contacted by a company the other day with an approach that made my jaw drop. I’m not going to name the firm because this post is not in any way anti the company. The purpose is to share with you yet another responsibility that schools might have to take up – hand washing. Now we all know that children are shown how to wash their hands at home and then teachers in Early Years continue this by regimenting the hand washing before lunch.

I was asked to support a campaign about schools using hand gel. Apparently, according to the publicity, playgrounds harbour lots of germs and dirt.(No mention was made to the doors, handles chairs etc that are in schools and also provide a home for bacteria!)  The publicity explains to parents that they may not be aware of these horrors of the playground and that the use of these gels would reassure them as it kills all known germs (well – I exaggerate slightly but you can see the text can’t you?!)

I went back twice to the company to ascertain whether they were expecting schools to provide the gels and was told – ‘No it is about bringing the situation to parents attention but….’it does kills nearly all known germs’!

Now – how do you stand on this? Should we stop teaching children to wash their hands with soap and water? Is the invention of hand gel an excellent advance in general hygiene? How could you see this working in school?

Granted it may be much quicker for the individual to use hand gel but if a TA / teacher has to go round a whole class squirting, I suspect it will take longer. For me it isn’t about the time. It is about the opportunity for learning that will be lost. Hygiene is so important that the sooner children have it as one of their habits the better.

I also have a bit of a problem with yet another ‘schools can take this on because it is in the public interest’ thrust from the media.

Do parents need to be alerted to this additional research?  If you are a parent is using hand gel something you are or could get passionate about? If you’re an Early Years teacher, do you want it in your classroom or should we stick to lines and washing hands?

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