Hand Hygiene Policy in Schools

A recent news article titled “Hand Hygiene Question” dated 9th October 2009, raised the question of “who is responsible for hand hygiene in our schools?” The following information may be of assistance.

The responsibility for hand hygiene policy and procedures in WA schools lays with the individual principals as is outlined in this release from The WA Department of Education and Training.



The Department’s Student Health Care policy acknowledges that all public schools will endeavour to ensure that health care standards are met and that good health behaviour practices are promoted in schools. The promotion of good health practices is a shared responsibility between schools and parents.

To help maintain a healthy environment and to prevent, to the extent possible the spread of disease, schools should encourage hand washing and ensure that soap or another cleansing agent is provided.  Whilst there is no specific policy or procedural statement which identifies minimum requirements for provision by schools of hand-washing materials or facilities for students, the Department expects that these strategies are in place in schools.

Students should wash their hands:
– before preparing or eating food;
– after visiting the toilet;
– after being exposed to respiratory or other body fluids;
– after playing sport; and
– at any other time when the hands are soiled.

Hand washing should include a minimum of 15 seconds of lathering the hands and fingers with soap before rinsing and drying.

Funding and Resources

The Department provides funding to individual schools through the school grant. This funding may be used for the provision of products for hand washing.  Decisions about the strategies adopted, about materials or facilities provided, and about how they are made available for students are made by individual schools at the local level.

Source – WA Department of Education and Training website

There are 10 comments .

Erwin Stromyer

I’m not much of a blog reading person, but I just wanted to tell you that I’m really enjoying what you’ve written so far. Please keep up the good work!

soapstream —

Thanks Erwin. We hope to build the profile of this issue in the community. There are numerous programs and detailed policies on hand hygiene programs for the health sector, food industry, even childcare, but the mainstream school system has been overlooked. Up until now anyway…..
We are always looking for useful information to assist so please just email us if you come across anything compelling. Thanks

Shannon Greenblatt

Wow! You’ve really got a great blog! Keep up the hard work! Also, thank for the info.

Ramina —

Hi, I came across your page, while searching for any avaialable hand hgyiene standards that school are obligated to comply with. My 4 year old just started going to a public school kidergarthen in which she is forced to share towels for hand drying and numerous attempts on my behalf has not convinced the school that the practice of sharing towels is wrong. keep up the good work and let me know if I can help in any way.

Deb —

Hi, I have a 5yr old just started school and am shocked at the lack of provisions for hand washing in the schools. I have spoken to various DECS departments who advise that there are no min stds in place and its up to each school to manage. Can anyone tell me of a sucessful protocol that has been introduced in any Australian school so that I can go to our Governing Council with the aim of positively improving hygiene standards to minimise infections? Deb

Julie —

Hi, my daughters school has no soap and no hand drying facilities, but strangely in the newsletters they repeat the importance of washing hands with soap and water. Also have signs around the school in relation to wash yours hands using soap and water. I called 9 schools in the area to see if this is common 8 schools have soap and 1 didnt. Bunnings even said they would donate the soap dispensers, still the school – wont do anything about. It will my mission to get this school to use soap – the teachers are provided with soap so why arent the children?

Dale Freegard —

I’m so pleased to find this site as I have just started the process of tryng to fix our school problem ie no soap and nothing to dry hands on. It is in complete contradiction to what the children are taught and lack of money seems to be the common response. Rather than this just being a school problem – I hope to tackle it as an entire school communtity problem and put together a working party to bring handwashing to the top of the objectives of a school. After all – if you have high absentism through illness – how can a school function well.

Amanda —

I had no idea how wide this problem is!! Has anyone had any joy with what they are using in their school? My childrens school also has no hand washing/drying facilities and I was outraged by this, but I am even more outraged it is such a state wide problem. I have looked a bit into spray soap it looks to be a good solution as the soap wont be overused and spilt all over the floor in the toilets, which will avoid children slipping. I am now on my school council and hope to get soap into our school very soon!!

Dale Freegard —

Can you please remove my comments from your site. Its not that I don;t agree with what I said, but I don;t want this coming up when people google my name.

Grant —

What are we living in a third world country.I only just found out my kids school doesn’ t have soap or hand drying facilitys (well the teachers do).After my little girl nearly wet herself trying to hold on because we have drummed into her so much how important it is to wash with soap so she won’ t get sick.I’t makes my skin crawl to think all of those little preps who are still learning to use the toilet properly not washing their hands properly .No wonder how fast gastro gets through a class .Maybe if money is so tight they shouldnt of put a $2000000 hall in and spent another million on renovating four class rooms .Just because there is no legislation (I’ m in Vic) doesn’t mean you don’t have to have it.Makes me think what else aren’t they doing

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