Schools are breeding grounds for the common cold, influenza, strep, and other illnesses that high schoolers and teachers get due to being in a school all the time. The cold weather outside forces us to shut all of the windows to keep the cold at bay and turn up the heat, making a nice environment for bacteria we are used to having be passed around in the winter.
To really put how much bacteria is in the school to the test, a couple of journalism students put together an experiment to see how bad the bacteria at the school really is. We first had to make agar, a gelatin substance that is a culture medium for bacteria. Then we swabbed five different places in the school. We swabbed the boy’s and girl’s bathroom stall handles, the front door handle, Mr. Williams’ table in his classroom, and Mrs.Paige’s desk in her room. The results were astonishing.
Out of the five sections that we tested, the front door section of the petri dish is now filled with agar and chunks of colorless bacteria. The winner of the grossest bathroom stall handles in the school goes to the… girls bathroom! Between the two bacteria specimens, the one from the girls bathroom was bigger. Assuming that the girl’s stalls are used more than the boys stalls, it makes sense.
Between the desk and table, the table turned out to be filled with more bacteria, and Mrs. Paige is known by students to clean her desks frequently. So for the conclusion of this experiment, we can say that the school is filled with surfaces we can say aren’t squeaky clean.
Mrs. Weeks, a science teacher at the school, believes that we can’t clean every surface and have everything without germs. According to LinkedIn.com, 70% of illnesses are caused by everybody’s hands touching surfaces. Due to many people in classrooms and having hands on activities during the school days, we can assume students and teachers are touching more things during the day. “I think that the school spreads germs, but germs in schools are unavoidable,” says Weeks.
The highschool doesn’t usually provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant supplies, and Weeks believes that that could be a reason why sickness can spread faster. The highschool does provide it, but teachers have to make specific requests to have the materials in the teacher’s classrooms. Some classrooms don’t have hand sanitizer for students to use. “I think that a way to prevent germs and illnesses from spreading so fast would be to have disinfectant wipes available and hand sanitizer for all the classrooms,” says Weeks.
Elle herold, ‘18, also thinks that there are germs that gets spread throughout the school. Herold thinks that the school is clean, but students need to make sure to wash hands and keep their items and areas clean. Cell phones can have 25,127 germs per square inch according to LinkedIn.com. “Everyone touches everything so we need to make sure we are washing our hands and keeping everything clean,” says Herold.
Germs may be everywhere, but anything as small as washing hands to cleaning door knobs can keep spreading germs at bay.