Teachers rejoice as swine flu brings soap back to schools

State health officials said on Wednesday they were gearing up to fight swine flu across Germany ahead of the new school year. Teachers are celebrating the return of soap after budgetary cuts left many school restroom dispensers empty.

Teachers rejoice as swine flu brings soap back to schools
Photos: DPA

Health ministries are distributing brochures to relay flu-fighting techniques to teachers, parents and students.

In the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Health Minister Josef Laumann recommended that boys and girls “cough into their sleeves.” Pregnant teachers and students should remain home for seven days if they are exposed to an outbreak in their schools. The minister also encouraged schools to have ample soap and paper towels on hand.

“We now something that’s never been here before,” one teacher said of the focus on fighting germs.

The cost-cutting that forced teachers and students to do without clean hands have also ended in the state of Lower Saxony.

“For years the soap dispensers in the bathrooms were empty. Now they are finally full again,” spokesperson for the Leibniz school in Hannover said.

Students there have been told to regularly wash their hands with a 20-second lather and use paper towels, but one teacher complained that five minute breaks between classes won’t be enough for students to implement the new hygiene measures.

Meanwhile Berlin children will attend “swine flu classes” during the first days of school where teachers will review infectious diseases and hygiene measures. Classrooms will also be aired out every four hours for ten minutes, but officials have not recommended students wear surgical masks. Any students exhibiting flu symptoms will be immediately isolated until their parents can pick them up.

In Schleswig-Holstein, officials have recommended that students disinfect door handles and keyboards in the case of an outbreak.

Hesse plans to name a pandemic agent.

Updated figures from Germany’s infectious diseases authority, the Robert Koch Institute, show the country has had 14,940 confirmed cases of swine flu. Most of these were reported by people returning from travel abroad.

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