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Tag Archive | "University of Colorado"

Facts and myths about germs at school


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(StatePoint) Everybody seems to have an opinion about germs — what causes them, where they’re located, how to avoid them — especially when it comes to children.

Experts say that American children miss 22 million days of school annually due to colds, flu and other infections.

“Avoiding germs at schools isn’t as simple as just washing your hands in the bathroom or sneezing into your sleeve,” says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona. “Germs are on everything kids touch in the classroom, as well as around the hallways, cafeteria and playground.”

With this in mind, it is important to separate facts from myths about germs in schools.

• Fact: Desks Are Among the Most Germ-Prone Items. It’s true! Students spend most of the day at their desks — sneezes, coughs and all — and, in some schools, they often switch classrooms and share desks with others. At the end of the day, students bring home that cocktail of germs to their families.

• Myth: Any Hand Sanitizer Will Do. According to research from the University of Colorado at Boulder, people carry an average of 3,200 bacteria on their hands. While most hand sanitizers are 99.9 percent effective at killing germs, some only last for a few minutes or until the application dries on the skin. Therefore, parents should consider applying hand sanitizers for their children that last throughout the day, such as Zoono’s GermFree24, which is proven to last for 24 hours on skin and is available as both a foam and a spray.

• Fact: Germs Can Affect Kids Outside the Classroom. Germs in schools aren’t just isolated to classrooms. They are everywhere, including cafeteria trays, playground jungle gyms and sports equipment. In fact, the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found 63 percent of gym equipment is contaminated with rhinovirus, which causes the common cold. Reminding children to wash their hands before and after using these items (and wiping them down) will go a long way toward preventing sickness.

• Myth: Sticking Things in Your Mouth is Child’s Play. Sure, curiosity might drive preschoolers to stick items in their mouths that don’t belong. However, older students who nervously chew on pen caps, especially ones they borrow from classmates, or on their own fingernails during tough tests, are susceptible to picking up the germs that are traversing through school.

• Fact: Backpacks Carry More Than Just Books. Backpacks go everywhere — to classrooms, inside lockers, in the cafeteria, in locker rooms — and collect various germs throughout the day. Periodically clean backpacks inside and out. And make sure lunches and other food items, as well as gym clothes, are packed in separate bags to avoid cross-contamination of germs.

• Myth: Sharing is Always Caring. Just about every school supply — from pens and pencils to headphones to sport jerseys — can be a vehicle for harmful bacteria. Make sure children are armed with their own items, including mechanical pencils to avoid using the classroom’s pencil sharpener, and avoid sharing their supplies with classmates.

When it comes to germs, separating myths from facts can help you have a happier, healthier school year.

Posted in Back 2 School, FeaturedComments (0)

New study: No correlation between school spending and student outcomes


Study finds spending more on Michigan schools doesn’t increase achievement

MIDLAND—There is no statistically significant correlation between how much money Michigan’s public schools spend and how well students perform academically, according to a new empirical study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and an assistant professor of economics at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.

The study’s findings align with the bulk of academic research on the subject, but does so with a unique and detailed data set of Michigan’s public school spending and academic achievement. The data comes from more than 4,000 individual public schools in Michigan and covers seven years’ worth of detailed expenditures and test scores for elementary, middle and high school students. The test scores were from the years 2007 through 2013. Using school-level data, as opposed to district-level data, enabled a more precise examination of the relationship between spending and performance.

“Of the 28 measurements of academic achievement studied, we find only one category showed a statistically significant correlation between spending and achievement, and the gains were nominal at best,” said Mackinac Center Education Policy Director Ben DeGrow, who authored the study along with Edward C. Hoang, a professor of economics at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. “Spending may matter in some cases, but given the way public schools currently spend their resources, it is highly unlikely that merely increasing funding will generate any meaningful boost to student achievement.”

The study comes as the state awaits the completion of a now-overdue school funding “adequacy” study it paid a Denver-based firm $399,000 to complete by March 31, 2016; that study is now due by May 13, 2016. School funding adequacy studies are common across the country and nearly all of them (38 of the 39 performed between 2003 and 2014) recommend funding increases.

“The state’s school spending adequacy study is sure to conclude additional tax dollars are necessary to improve student performance to adequate levels, but lawmakers, parents and the Michigan Department of Education owe it to students to examine how education dollars are spent, rather than simply throwing more money to areas that do not directly impact the classroom,” DeGrow said. “As our findings suggest, it could be that public schools generally fail to spend additional resources effectively.”

The only area that showed a statistically significant correlation between additional spending and student achievement was seventh-grade math, and the impact was small: a school would need to spend on average 10 percent more to improve the average state test score by just .0574 points.

“This study suggests that simply spending more of Michigan taxpayers’ dollars on the public school system alone is not enough to improve student achievement,” said Hoang.

Read the full study on “School Spending and Student Achievement in Michigan: What’s the Relationship?” at www.mackinac.org.

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