The pandemic has been the talk of the nation for little over a year now, causing public health and safety to become topics that are included in everyday conversation. New Hyde Park Memorial has invested tons of time and money to enforce a plethora of safety precautions during the pandemic to ensure a safe environment for both students and staff. These precautions include blue stickers in the hallways to ensure social distancing practices, COVID-19 screening forms, numerous custodial cleaning protocols, and hand sanitizer in every classroom. However, the place that may be the epicenter for the spread of infection is overlooked: school bathrooms.
We are all taught as children that washing our hands is one of the best ways to stave off disease, and now more than ever the practice of handwashing and hygiene has become an essential precedent for warding off the strenuous virus that is COVID-19. In fact, many studies conducted in the past have shown that handwashing is the simplest and most effective method to remove germs and prevent the spread of disease. Turns out, you may be undoing all your handwashing work the moment you touch the steel knobs on the sink, which are sometimes broken, attempt to push the often dismantled soap dispensers, or press the button on the unreliable hand dryer. Amidst all the reforms and precautionary steps the school has taken to ensure the safety of students and faculty members within the school during the pandemic, arguably some of the most basic repairs have not been tackled. The sounds of protests and complaints from students about school bathrooms have been rampant for many years, but now more than ever they only got louder with the pressing matter of hygiene and cleanliness floating over many people’s heads.
Source by Saanvi Mirchandani
The sinks in the student bathrooms are difficult to use and ineffective.
According to many students, the school bathrooms, at least the ones warranted specifically for the student body, are mediocre and include unreliable antiques cemented to the tiled walls. However, bathrooms specifically designated for teachers are arguably better in contrast to the general bathrooms provided for students. These restrooms are more standard, in which the faucets have knobs that you do not need to hold down for a stream of water to flow through the nozzle. It is a rotational knob that many most likely have at home. They are the industrial standard, not automated nor modern, but not ineffective. They are "just right," and ultimately prove to be a better option for endorsing public safety. If these types of knobs were installed in all of the bathrooms in the school, that may make the process of sanitization more systematic and functional, ultimately attracting students to regularly practice handwashing, rather than being petrified to use the restroom.
In January, the student council hosted “The Handwashing Challenge,” to promote hygienic practices and healthy behavior amidst the New Hyde Park community. The group hosted a week-long event where any member of the school community could produce a creative video advertising handwashing and taking small but preventative measures against COVID-19. In exchange, the winners received monetary awards and recognition for their efforts. When looking at it from a broader field of view, the situation in and of itself proves to be quite ironic. While extensive actions are taken to campaign for healthy practices within the community and teach people to value public safety and health during the pandemic, the standard facilities in the student bathrooms are still waiting for repair and modifications.
“...arguably some of the most basic repairs have not been tackled...”
What are some positive steps the school could take? Automation of faucets and soap dispensers could be the next steps the school could enact to prioritize student safety on campus and to promote students to feel comfortable practicing healthy habits like handwashing. The installation of sensors will eliminate the issue of spreading infection and contamination by using the frequently touched handles after washing hands. NHP’s elementary schools have even updated their bathrooms to include sinks with automatic faucets, flushers and soap dispensers.
Overall, many students refrain from going to the school restrooms because of the fact that it is an ineffective method of cleaning hands, and more counterintuitive than productive. Many chose to use portable sanitizers and hand wipes instead. It is evident that the old facilities in the school need to be renovated in order to effectively stop the spread and provide a place for students to practice conventional methods of hygiene in the future.