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Mask wearing and hand hygiene lessons from primary students

| Categories: COVID-19

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Sometimes the best lessons are learned from students. With the first week of back-to-school under their belts, primary students in two Vancouver School District schools share why it’s important wear masks and wash our hands – and how to do so right!

At Sir Richard McBride Annex, students in Ms. Lum’s Grade 2/3 class are experts when it comes to masking-up. As they stand in line to head into their classroom, each of them dons a mask before entering. They then make their way for the classroom’s sink to wash their hands. Chattering as they remain in line, they each holdout their hands with palms up while Ms. Lum sprays water on their outstretched hands and dispenses hand soap. The students then each take their turn at the sink, lathering up and meticulously wash, rinse and dry their hands before settling in for a soft start to their school day.

As they play with math tiles, read books or draw, each keeps wearing their mask. Ms. Lum clearly knows how to connect with the students in her class, asking them how they are feeling this day before the students take their turn at giving a lesson.

Liam says it’s important to wear a mask “so we don’t get COVID.” The students go onto explain that masks should cover your nose and extend under your chin. Clearly comfortable and adept with their masks, the class then explains that there are many places outside of school where they also wear masks. “In all public places,” says Clara.

Mille adds that she wears a mask when visiting the art gallery before explaining that it’s also important to ensure you get your fingertips soaped up when washing hands – another lesson the students shared. Maverick tells everyone that handwashing is important “to get rid of all of the germs!” He then describes how to wash your hands properly: rub your hands together with soap and water, cleaning your palms, back of your hands and in between your fingers too.

Mask wearing and hand hygiene are also the norm for students at Lord Selkirk Elementary. As Ms. Reiben’s Grade 2 class lined up after recess, they each wear a mask before heading inside to wash their hands and then settle back into class.

The realities of the pandemic are not lost upon young learners. “It’s important to wear your mask because if you get COVID nobody will want to play with you and you won’t get to learn stuff,” says Kason.

His classmates note other places outside of school where they too all wear masks. Bennett says he wears a mask in stores. Classmate Sophie says masks should also be worn, “In restaurants when you’re not eating food.”

Frances also reminds everyone to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. Her classmates say they count to ensure they meet that mark, while Ayleen says you can also sign the Happy Birthday song twice.

Fellow Selkirk students Ellie and Devon offered a handwashing demonstration. At a sink installed thanks to government funding for COVID-safety improvements in schools, each takes a turn lathering up their hands and washing them thoroughly – palms, back of their hands, in between their fingers and, with great diligence, under fingernails, before drying their hands with paper towel.

Wrapping up the day’s lesson, students also shared that when you are unable t wash your hands, you can use hand sanitizer instead. They even provided school principal, Ms. Burton, with their “secret sauce” – a concoction of scented sanitizers that not only cleans away germs but calms the spirit too! 

Protocols to keep everyone in schools safe and healthy are simply part of a regular school day for these primary students. In fact, students in Ms. Lum’s Grade 2/3 class are far more occupied with thinking about what they are most looking forward to this school year: field trips, art class, and of course, playing on the school grounds with their friends. 

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