Help keep flu out of the classroom and protect your family from illness

School classrooms are a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. Teaching children about the flu and other contagious diseases starts at home but should continue at school as well.

“Children are very observant and hear about the flu in conversation, on the radio and on the television,” said Jennifer Ponder, Ph.D., chair of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Education Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “It is important that caretakers and educators continue those conversations to create healthy hygiene habits in children. In order to succeed in the classroom, a child needs to be healthy and present, so starting good hygiene early on will increase their chances of success.”

Ponder suggests that educators create a classroom environment where children are in charge of taking care of their space. This includes teaching cleanliness and strategies to disinfect spaces and protect germs from spreading, such as using a disinfecting wipe to clean all desks and surfaces on a daily basis.

“There are resources for educators to help teach kids about proper hygiene,” Ponder said. “Finding ways to incorporate hygiene and the flu into your lesson plan makes learning fun and will resonate with younger children more.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a resource for educators to incorporate hygiene and the flu into their curriculum, “Teaching Children About the Flu.” Activities include:

  • Sing “If You Are Happy and You Know It, Scrub Your Hands” while washing your hands to ensure that students wash for the appropriate amount of time.

  • Model how to wash your hands with the appropriate amount of soap.

  • Cough or sneeze in their elbow/sleeve if tissues are not available.

  • Simulate how germs spread by using a drop of unscented lotion and a pinch of glitter. Make a fist with glitter in it, then open the hand to show how glitter spreads. The teacher touches another child’s hand to show how the glitter spreads easily. Use a paper towel to wipe off the glitter. The glitter is hard to get off, showing how easily germs spread from person to person.

Parents can do their part to help keep germs out of the classroom. Ponder suggests parents send hand sanitizer, paper towels, tissues and disinfectants to help keep the classroom clean. When a child is running a fever, coughing or sneezing excessively, lethargic, or showing other symptoms of the flu, keep them home. If symptoms persist, call your pediatrician.

“Parents should be talking to children about the flu and flu symptoms,” Ponder said. “Reiterate what they are hearing at school, on TV and from their friends. Use these opportunities to talk about germs, proper handwashing and keeping your home clean.”

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.

Black Law Enforcement Speaks Out on Proposed Menthol Ban

Black Law Enforcement Speaks Out on Proposed Menthol Ban


Proposed Legislation Will Have Drastic and Debilitating Impact on Communities of Color

Several state legislatures have recently proposed laws that are being directed towards what may only be viewed as a mephitic approach to issues as they relate to youthful use of e-cigarettes and vaping.

We stress the concept that these proposed legislative acts would, in fact, be antithetical to healthy, robust and productive relationships between law enforcement and those they are sworn to protect as these new laws would presumably provide law enforcement officers with the authority, indeed the responsibility, to stop, interrogate and arrest persons on suspicion of selling or being in possession of untaxed cigarettes.

None of these legislative efforts appear to have considered the obvious detrimental impact on communities of color, where the preferred cigarette is menthol, and approximately 80% of all African Americans who do smoke prefer to smoke menthol cigarettes. They as well seem to have totally disregarded the strong recommendations of the 2009 Federal Tobacco Control Act in reaching out to subject matter experts when developing the actual language of their legislation. To date, there has been no known input from law enforcement experts, and specifically none from members of any of the nearly thirty organizations representing African American and Latino criminal justice practitioners in the Northern United States who are infinitely aware of the devastating impact of adverse law enforcement interaction in communities of color.

And we must not forget the deadly result of law enforcement interaction with Eric Garner in New York for exactly what these laws would prohibit-the illicit sale and possession of untaxed cigarettes.

We strongly urge members of the community to revert to their roots as civil rights activists and make their voices heard on this issue. And we demand that legislators reconsider their proposals and the obvious consequences it will have on a community that is now, again, being adversely targeted.

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