Parents are very interested in a healthy child for many reasons: A healthy student is a better learner, attends school every day and parents are able to go to work. The schools are paid for by per diem(days a student attends school).  Absenteeism due to respiratory and gastro-intestinal illness are VERY costly to all of us. It is a modest investment in your school’s health and your productivity.

As a parent of 4 children an infectious disease creates havoc in our daily routines. Yes EVERY family has suffered through it, but who wants to continue this pattern if there is a solution? Traditional public health and school curriculum do not teach Hand Awareness, resulting in many un-needed illnesses and absences due to infectious diseases.

Additionally, absences due to illnesses strain school and family budgets. Teacher absences require substitute teachers. Student absences due to illnesses result in parents missing work, extra childcare costs, or neglected children because they cannot afford the extra childcare.

This far-reaching problem of not washing one’s hands is not only costly, but also decreases student achievement.  It is estimated that every teacher is absent due to illness an average of 5.3 days/year, while students are absent an average of 4.5 days/year due to illness.* Both types of absences are disruptive to learning.  Teacher absences require a re-teach of lessons due to missed days.  Students either miss out on the lesson taught during their absence or they must make up the work, often times holding back the class. Student absences begin to tangentially negatively impact the achievement of surrounding students. While the lack of Hand Awareness (hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and cross contamination) impacts every student across America, the IPSPP seeks to improve the health of students and teachers within the Cincinnati Public School System.  This behavior modification program will benefit the health of every student and staff member in participating schools.

In addition, the dwindling number of nurses and health practitioners employed in Public and Parochial Schools will complicate any infection prevention effort. Without nurses available to teach infection prevention much less treat it, it becomes imperative for someone to proactively educate students about infection prevention.  This is where the Infection Prevention School Partnership Program (IPSPP) comes in as a solution.

The IPSPP serves as the most unique multi-media and multi-sensory behavior modification program that teaches true primary infection prevention.  It trains the school community to be more “Hand Aware” to prevent the spread of respiratory and gastro-intestinal diseases within the school, families, and community.  The Program endeavors to decrease student and staff absences due to infectious diseases, while benefitting the family through the reinforcement tools students take home.  Essentially, the Program aims to create a triangle to engage the school, the family, and the community in raising Hand Awareness and promote infection prevention.  The program integrates innovative strategies and educational techniques of the Johns Hopkins Partnership 2000 for Successful Schools to achieve effective behavior change. Applying these techniques and tools of this Partnership into a school’s culture and curriculum will help keep students, teachers, staff, and parents healthy and present which will reduce school spending on substitute teachers.

During the Partnership, a school receives the tools necessary to improve infection prevention.  The IPSPP provides partner schools with an Infection Prevention Tool Kit, a curriculum guide to Henry the Hand’s 4 Principles of Hand Awareness, and consultative support between the school and the Henry the Hand Foundation to ensure program success.

Implementing the IPSPP’s unique science-based curriculum is a simple way to reduce the spread of respiratory and gastro-intestinal diseases.  The IPSPP raises awareness about infectious diseases and provides preventative techniques and strategies.  The Foundation has adapted the Program to be able to deliver the message in spite of administrative changes in the school, and to make it easy for any person (teacher, parent, after-school program facilitator, mature high school student) to teach it.

The Program provides a short-term, medium-term, and long-term impact.  The short-term impact is to teach students and awaken adults (staff and parents) about the importance of Hand Awareness (hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and cross contamination).  The Program’s medium-term impact helps reduce absenteeism for students and staff, enabling a better learning environment.  A healthy teacher is a better instructor, and a healthy student is a better learner.  The medium-term impact also includes lowering school spending on substitute teachers and increasing work-place efficiency for parents.  The Program leaves a long-term impact by creating life-long practitioners of the 4 Principles of Hand Awareness who will work in health care, food service, public health, and other careers where it is critical to be more “Hand Aware” for their own safety and the safety of others.


*Statistics acquired from Minnesota Department of Health website

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