Ping! There it is, sitting in your inbox…the email from school reporting that there is a bug going around. Or maybe it’s the sound of your phone? Rrrring! The dreaded phone call saying your child is running a fever. When my son, John, was young, taking time off was something Rob and I tried to avoid at all costs, but it was unavoidable. Here at Sunrise Montessori, we get it. You are working and need to be at work to pay the bills (our teachers do, too!). A child getting sick can also turn on occasion ugly, which is scary. We have a LOT of reasons to keep our school as healthy as possible. And we hear from our families who have been with us for a while that their children don’t nearly get as sick as often as they did in the olden days of BSM (Before Sunrise Montessori).
So how are we keeping illness at bay?
Step #1: Called into ACTION!
- We immediately call the parents until we reach someone so that the parent can get a doctor’s appointment scheduled and the sick child can be picked up as soon as possible.
- As soon as we discover a child is sick, the teachers start removing mouth objects (for classrooms with children under the age of three) from the room to be sanitized later and new ones are put out.
- Next the teachers use their bleach water spray (a super light concentration that we make fresh every morning as mandated by the State of Texas) and a clean rag and start wiping down surfaces to kill the germs. They also wipe down materials, door knobs, light switches, bathroom hardware, etc. To properly sanitize, you have to use boiling hot water or a chemical, like bleach. Cleaning just means removing a foreign object, like dirt, from the surface of something. Sanitizing is what it takes to kill bacteria and viruses.
- An email is sent out to all the families once we receive confirmation that a child has a contagious illness.
Yet despite all our efforts, sometimes these things just aren’t cutting it. So what then?
Step #2: What if illness is affecting more than a couple students in a classroom?
- A few years ago, there was a nasty flu going around called H1N1. Remember that one? We sure do. As it affected our school and our numbers of sick children kept climbing, I began searching for ways to loosen its grip and stop it in its tracks. That’s when I discovered the Disinfectant Fogger. It’s a glorious invention! Think of it like a can of Lysol. It’s important to note that we do this AFTER we are closed for the day. =) We set a few cans down on the ground or on tables around the classroom, push a spray button that releases the sanitizer, walk out and shut the door. The fog envelopes the room, getting into every nook and cranny, so if we missed something, it helps to find and eliminate it.
- During this time, Sunrise began offering to repay any team member who got the flu shot, which we still do today.
Even though we wear red capes when we can, it still takes a lot of prevention and our other red cape wearers, you!, to keep things cool.
Step #3: Be wise, sanitize!
- After lunch, and then again at the end of the day, our teachers sanitize the tables and bathrooms. They wipe things down with bleach water. Then they do it again after the classroom is closed down for the day. The final step? Spraying the materials on the shelves with Lysol. Have you noticed that when you walk into Sunrise that it smells good and looks clean? We are fanatical about cleaning and sanitizing! Mr. Clean could learn a thing or two.
- If our team members are the defense of our team, then our awesome Sunrise Montessori parents are our offensive line. They don’t like their child getting sick and they hate hearing that their child may have gotten another child sick, so if their child is running a fever over 100 degrees or coughed all night, they keep their child home, which radically reduces the incidences of infection. (Thank you!!!)
- Our entryways have hand sanitizer stations for adults. So do our classrooms (just ask your child’s teacher where it is; fyi hand sanitizer shouldn’t be used by a child who is still putting their fingers or objects in their mouth).
- We teach the children to cough and sneeze into their shoulder (as we mentor doing) and to blow their nose themselves when it’s runny.
- Before and after every meal, after playing outside, and after going to the bathroom, our students wash their hands. If the child is too young to wash their own hands, we do it for them. And our team members wash their hands as well (even after using gloves to assist a diaper change or bathroom accident).
- We also have a fabulous professional cleaning service that comes five nights a week after we shut down for the day.
All of these steps add up like a preventative vitamin, protecting us before something can even start. And although sharing is caring, at Sunrise, we only want to share sanitizing tips, not germs.