A-Z List | Accessible Info | Careers | Contact Us

Images from Peel Region

School Health Reference Guide


The Region of Peel School Health Reference Guide is a supplementary resource to relevant Peel and Dufferin-Peel school board policies. Refer to school board policy first if you have questions or concerns.

Ways to Prevent Infection

Clean hands often
Cover coughs and sneezes
Stay home when ill
Get the flu shot and routine scheduled immunizations
Clean the classroom and school environment

Clean Hands Often

Hand hygiene, washing thoroughly with soap and water or cleaning with an alcohol-based hand rub, is the single most effective strategy for both preventing infection in schools and stopping the spread once an infection is present. Unclean hands are the most common means of transmitting infections when we touch our eyes, nose and mouth. Hand hygiene decreases the number of disease-causing organisms on the surface of the skin. This can be achieved by traditional hand washing (PDF 72KB) with soap and running water, or by using an alcohol-based hand rub (PDF 74KB) on the hands.

Promoting hand hygiene

Promote hand hygiene in your school by:

  • Ensuring that washrooms and kitchen areas are regularly stocked with liquid pump soap and paper towels.
  • Posting instructional signage about hand hygiene in kitchens and washrooms.
  • Educating staff/student/children about cleaning hands properly, thoroughly and frequently.
  • Utilizing the School Teams’ “Infection Connection” tool kit resource developed by Peel Public Health for Peel teachers to use in their classrooms. It includes hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette resources, instructions, activities, books, videos and more. It can be signed out from:
    • Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board Learning Resource Centre (contact number 905-362-2100)
    • Peel District School Board - Family libraries
  • Recommending students/children clean their hands prior to snacks and lunch and after outdoor activities.
  • Promoting hand hygiene prior to any food preparation and handling by parents, volunteers, staff and children/students.
  • Being a positive role model; demonstrate proper hand hygiene so others can learn. Don’t assume that children, staff or volunteers know how to wash their hands properly. Coaching and supervision is an essential element in establishing good hand cleaning technique and habits in children.
  • Teaching children in a relaxed and fun manner. Singing the alphabet or a hand washing song can be a motivator and can be incorporated into hand hygiene routines.
  • Advocating for/providing easily accessible hand washing sinks or hand hygiene products.
  • Advocating for/providing warm water in washrooms so children are comfortable with the water temperature. Having very cold or very hot water can deter children and others from washing their hands.
When to clean hands


  • touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • handling/preparing food or beverages
  • eating
  • feeding a child
  • performing first aid


  • Handling animals, pets, pet birds, domestic poultry or wild birds
  • Cleaning up after pets, animals or birds
  • Handling raw meat, poultry or fish
  • Being in contact with someone who has a cold, influenza (“flu”), diarrhea or vomiting, or an infection of any kind
  • Touching objects handled by someone who has an infection
  • Changing diapers
  • Helping a child to use the toilet
  • Wiping a child’s nose
  • Handling blood or body fluids (such as urine, vomit, feces or others)
  • Sneezing or coughing into your hands or facial tissue or blowing your nose
  • Using the washroom
  • Leaving a public place where you have touched multiple horizontal surfaces (such as a railing, door knobs, etc.)
  • Handling money
  • Removing gloves used for cleaning
  • Cleaning
  • Gardening or handling soil
  • Performing first aid
  • Applying cream, ointment or sunscreen
  • Playing with water, sand or other sensory material


  • hands are visibly soiled
  • you are arriving at school
  • you are entering school
  • you are leaving school
  • you are arriving home
Hand washing at a sink with soap and water
  • Use a pump-style plain liquid soap rather than bar soap with multiple users. Bar soap can easily become contaminated with germs and should only be used for personal use.
  • Use liquid soap containers until empty and then discard. Do not refill used soap containers because this practice can lead to contamination of the soap solution.
  • Antibacterial or antimicrobial soap is not recommended in the community. There is little evidence to show that infections will be prevented in non-health care settings if this soap is used. Consequentially, this soap can potentially lead to the development of resistant microorganisms.

“Antibacterial agents alter the mix of naturally occurring bacteria killing susceptible organisms and potentially leaving the resistant ones to survive and multiply. Furthermore, the incorporation of low levels of antibacterial agents, which do not kill the organisms, may promote the development of resistant genes.”
-- CHICA Canada Position Statement – March 2005

  • Use of paper towels is ideal. Paper towels should be used to dry hands and turn off taps to prevent recontamination of hands.
  • Air dryers are an alternative to dry hands when automatic faucets are available.
  • The use of linen/cloth roller type dispensers is not recommended.
Correct way to wash hands with soap and water
  • Clothing or items such as watches should be pushed back so they do not interfere with hand washing.
  • Turn on tap.
  • Wet hands with warm (not hot) water.
  • Apply soap and lather.
  • Rub all over hand surfaces (concentrating on fingertips, between fingers, nail beds, back of hands and base of thumbs) for at least 15 seconds.
  • Rinse hands thoroughly under running water.
  • Pat dry using paper towel.
  • Turn off taps using paper towel and discard.

It is important to wash hands for at least 15 seconds. Choose a song to sing such as “Happy Birthday” to help ensure hands are washed long enough.

Children, staff and volunteers whose hands are soiled with glue, paint, or other organic material, should always use soap and running water to clean hands. For hands that are not visibly soiled, alcohol-based hand rub is an effective alternative to soap and water.

Using alcohol-based hand rub
  • Alcohol-based hand rub is an acceptable method of hand hygiene except when hands are visibly soiled. Hands must be free of visible dirt or soil for these products to be effective. Disposable hand wipes or towelettes may be used to remove dirt or soil prior to the use of alcohol-based hand rubs.
  • Products may be found in liquid, gel, foam or lotion form. The recommended alcohol concentration for alcohol-based hand rub is 60 to 90% for general use.*
  • Using alcohol-based hand rub is safe for young children’s hands, but its use should be supervised. Licking hands after the product is dry carries no chance of alcohol intoxication. Store it safely so that a child cannot accidentally ingest it. If it is ingested, contact Ontario Poison Control – Hospital for Sick Children.
  • Be aware: Alcohol may be flammable while wet!
Resources for teachers
Correct way to clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub
  1. Squirt a small amount (1 to 2 full pump or a “loonie” sized amount) onto the palm of one hand.
  2. Swirl the fingertips of your other hand into the product on your palm.
  3. Switch the product to the palm of your other hand.
  4. Swirl the fingertips of your other hand to clean.
  5. Scrub all surfaces of your hands – wrists, between fingers, backs of hands, thumbs for at least 15 seconds or until your hands are dry.
Related links

* A recent study suggests that norovirus is inactivated by alcohol concentrations of 70 to 90%. Since norovirus is a concern during gastrointestinal outbreaks in schools, this should be taken into consideration when choosing an alcohol based hand rub during outbreaks.3

3CHICA – Canada Hand Hygiene Position Statement available at chica.org/pdf/handhygiene.pdf (PDF 100KB)



Home | Contact Us | Search
A-Z Topic List

Smaller Text Larger Text

Revised: Friday January 15 2016