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Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases

Emma is a Teaching Assistant who works for Protocol Education in Wolverhampton. At this time of year many coughs and colds make the rounds and Emma gives her advice.

Coughs and sneezes spread diseases - aka the perils of working in education.

I'm lying in bed.  It's too hot, my throat scratches and I ache in places I didn't even know I had places.  I'm wondering which child shared their cold with me.  Was it the one with the perpetually runny nose? The one who coughed in my face? Or the one who liked to share their mucous with my clothes? Working with children is a dangerous profession.  They say after a while you become immune to it.  But after the best part of a decade, I'd like to know when to expect that.  Children, for all their graces are not the most hygienic of beings; noses wiped on sleeves, or picked and eaten (are they not being fed at home?), coughs and sneezes without covering faces and used white tissues strewn on the floor like baby ghosts.  And don't get me started on how many times I've had to remind children to wash their hands after the toilet.  Is it any wonder that at this time of year, in particular, I keep my local pharmacy in business? I can't complain too much though, well not out loud anyway.  I must try to save my voice.  After all, I did once have to call in sick, because my voice had abandoned me after a nasty coughing fit.  Calling in sick when you have no voice, by the way, is not an easy thing to do.

I'm hoping this winter I can give the norovirus a skip. I once caught it as a student on placement.  It chose to present itself whilst out on a Christmas meal in a restaurant with a faulty toilet.  That was no fun! Then there was the time that I'd been up all night, feeling very ill indeed, but Year 6 had their ghost hunting expedition and I didn't want to let them down.  So, when after 5 minutes of being at the "haunted" house, I collapsed right in front of them, I scared the poor souls half to death.  They thought I'd been possessed by a ghost!

What can you do?

Short of walking around in a surgeon's mask and wearing latex gloves, what can you do? Firstly, unless you want some pretty strange looks and the school to never call for you again, I'd advise against that.  They say prevention is better than cure, but you can try to educate each and every child on covering their mouths and washing their hands, but there are just so many of them! Save your voice, you'll need it to teach.  Buy yourself some hand gel, stock up on vitamins and open up some windows.  Prepare for a long winter!

Health and Safety

The other peril of working in education lies not in the micro universe of viruses, but with the safety aspect of health and safety.  I take no pride in saying that I am the reason why students at a certain university college are given a safety lecture each year. I have two scars on my wrist to prove that sometimes smart people can do really dumb things.  Use a step ladder folks. People asked me why I did such a reckless thing as standing on a chair to pin up children's work.  Aside from being young and feeling invincible, probably because I followed some very bad examples from professionals. There's the many times I've seen teachers' standing on wobbly tables, once even a book shelf and that time a teacher decided the table wasn't high enough and added a chair to it.  Calling over to me "Don't tell the head!" as a step ladder stood by, gathering dust in a nearby cupboard.

Sometimes things just happen

Sometimes though, accidents just happen, through no fault or stupidity of our own.  Like the time a child distracted me as I was stapling work to a wall.  I can tell you I was very creative in my choice of euphemisms as the staple went through my finger! Then there are the children; the boy who broke his elbow on the playground and didn't tell anyone until he got home.  And the boy who slipped on a discarded apple core and let the whole school know about it when he broke his arm!  As for me, when I broke my wrist in two places, I was telling everyone I was ok and could go back to teaching, as my bones protruded from my wrist.  Did they always look like that?

Schools can be dangerous places.  Use your common sense and don't assume that just because it's called that, that it is all that common after all. 

Do you have a Winter plan or special remedy you can share with us? Share on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Google+


Tags: Emma, Protocol Education, coughs, colds, ill, work, winter, supply, Christmas

Category: Australian Teachers

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