Grim Grades on Clean Hands Report Card

America's school kids, their parents, and their teachers
might need to brush up on their hand hygiene, according to the 2007 "Clean
Hands Report Card."

The report card, issued byB the Soap and Detergent Association (SDA),
comes before this year's cold and flu season starts -- so it's not too late to
upgrade your hand-washing habits to help prevent the spread of cold and flu

Overall, the SDA gives students, parents, teachers, and school nurses/health
professionals a "C" gradeB for hand hygiene. Here are the specific
grades for each group:

  • Students: D

  • Dads: D+

  • Moms: B-

  • Teachers: B-

  • School nurses/health professionals: B+

The grades are based on surveys completed over the summer by 508 teachers,
356 health professionals (mostly school nurses), 326 students, 311 dads, and
353 moms.

The surveys included questions about how long people spend washing their
hands and how often they wash their hands.

Clean Hands Survey

In the survey, most participants indicated that they always wash their hands
after going to the bathroom.

However, less than a quarter of the students and half of the teachers said
they always wash their hands before eating lunch.

Only 27% of teachers, about 18% of students, almost 33% of school
nurses/health professionals, and about 30% of parents said they always wash
their hands after coughing or sneezing.

Many people may not spend long enough lathering up. The CDC recommends
washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.

But according to the survey, nearly 46% of teachers, 44% of school
nurses/health professionals, 51% of students, and 42% of parents said they
typically wash their hands for 15 seconds or less.

The parents' survey, completed by telephone, has a 3.8% margin of error. The
SDA doesn't list a margin of error for the students, teachers, and school
nurses/health professionals' surveys, which were completed at conferences.

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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