Expect to Get Sick
Each year, teachers are exposed to many new germs. Every time a paper is handed in or a student borrows one of your pencils, you will be exposed to germs. If you have a shared computer, then you are also subject to further exposure. In fact, you may come in contact with germs you're not resistant to just by touching the handle to open your door.
New teachers are especially vulnerable. In most cases, the new teacher's body is simply not immune to all of the germs it will encounter. As a new teacher, you should expect to take all of the sick days you have available to you. However, there are some steps you can take to keep yourself and your students healthier.
Make sure that you wash your hands often and use antibacterial hand wash during class. Have this type of hand sanitizer available for student use. If students in your class are sneezing or coughing a lot, make sure that when they leave the classroom you clean their desks and the door handle along with anything else they might have touched. You should also make sure to take a daily multivitamin and to drink plenty of fluids. Healthy eating habits lead to better overall health.
If it is the cold and flu season and all your students seem to be catching the latest bug, you might consider avoiding assignments that require them to work in close groups. When students work in groups, they often share pens, pencils, and papers. They also usually sit closer together than normal, thus leading to a greater chance of exposure and illness.
Each year more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized and approximately 36,000 people die because of the flu. January and February are typically the worst months for the flu, even though the flu season can last from November through March.
Teaching Students to Be Thoughtful
Many teachers catch the latest bugs from students. For example, students will come up to your desk and sneeze or cough in your face without covering their mouths. While it is understandable that a kindergartner or first-grader might do this, it just seems inexcusable in a senior. However, this is the situation you may experience as a teacher in any grade.
Even though you are not your students' parent or guardian, you should still take some time to teach them important life skills and manners. Just as you would remind her to say “please” and “thank you,” you should also point out whenever a student does not cover her mouth when sneezing and tell her it is not acceptable. Continuing to reinforce manners will make a difference in the long run.