Winter is the time of year when we typically see an increase in viral illnesses circulating in schools and the wider community.

What schools, early childcare centres and kohanga reo can do to help prevent the spread of influenza

Influenza is typically spread via droplets by someone coughing or sneezing into their hand, then not washing it and passing it to someone else’s hand or a surface which then becomes contaminated. Those individuals who now have the virus on their hands can easily rub their eyes or put their hand in their mouths, without thinking, and thus transfer the virus to themselves.

There are a few simple, but effective measures to help prevent the spread of influenza (and other viruses) in the school environment:

  • Ensure students (and staff) with symptoms stay at home until they are well and free of symptoms.
  • Hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of influenza. Promote hand hygiene messages at school and ensure good hand hygiene facilities are available.
  • Providing alcohol-based hand rubs in classrooms may be a useful additional measure to help reduce the spread of viruses.
  • It is also recommended that students are encouraged to practice good cough and sneeze etiquette. This means coughing or sneezing into your elbow or preferably covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and then disposing of the tissue in a lined rubbish bin or plastic bag.

The Ministry of Health website provides information for education providers.