Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

GCC nursing students, GOISD CNA students teach kids to wash hands


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Ironwood - On their second day of school, elementary students at Luther L. Wright School received instruction from Gogebic Community College nursing students, along with students in the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District CNA program on how to properly wash their hands.

"As part of the safe back-to-school plan we felt that it was important to do some education in terms of hand-washing, social distancing, and proper mask wearing," said Amanda Sprague, the CNA instructor for the GOISD and Ironwood school board president.

Sprague said that they have always taught hand-washing to the students, but it is normally only one class, and is not usually so early in the school year. However, this year, they felt like it couldn't only be one class that they should teach all of the elementary students K-6. They have partnered with GCC before so she thought it would be a good opportunity to work together again.

"My students hadn't even been taught how to properly wash their hands," she said. Handwashing is one of the first things that CNA students are taught for their certification, and this was done on the second day of classes. Therefore, she said it made sense to have the GCC students there as the lead and the GOISD students there to learn and the ropes of teaching and talking in front of people.

"It was kinda like a divide and conquer. We needed many hands on deck to get that done. So the partnership worked really well to get a lot of kids through the program," Sprague said.

Karen Balyeat, who teaches nursing at GCC, said they were contacted by the school and asked if they could teach hand washing to the elementary students right after school started. The event was originally scheduled for August, but was pushed back to September with the delay in school starting. She said she accompanied her students, along with the GOISD CNA students to teach the children.

"It was such a fun project to do and seeing nursing students working along with high school students to teach such important information to the elementary students was really a great cooperative effort," said Karen Balyeat.

Sprague said it seemed to work well to work collaboratively with the GCC nursing students, who have already had some training to partner and build that mentorship between the students in the two programs.

"It fits well for my kids who are going to be going on to the nursing program at some point hopefully," she said. "And it gave the senior (college) nursing students an opportunity to teach and to educate, which is what nurses do a lot of anyways so it seemed to work really well."

Before going to the school, the college students discussed the best ways to teach the children how to properly wash their hands and how they would teach a kindergarten student differently than a fifth or sixth grade student, Balyeat said.

"We discussed communication with the different age levels and how to engage children of different ages," she said. "It was a great way to reinforce child development with nursing students, and then they mentored the high school students to engage them in the teaching, as well."

According to the Balyeat, the nursing students began by demonstrating to the elementary children how to wash their hands properly. They used Glo Germ, a handwashing training tool, with each student to give them an idea of how well they were washing. Glo Germ was rubbed on the child's hands like a lotion and they then washed their hands. After a washing, an ultra violet light was shone on the child's hands revealing all the "germs" that were missed in the washing process.

The nursing students then gave feedback to the elementary students on what they did well and how they could improve. The GCC students also stressed the importance of masking and social distancing.

According to Sprague, some of the kids were shocked at the amount of germs that were still visible on their hands and many of them wanted to go wash their hands again. She said they found it fascinating and eye opening.

"It was a great opportunity for the nursing students to provide a service to the community and see how nurses can provide health education to help keep students safe and healthy," Balyeat said.

The GCC RN students will be working with the GOISD CNA students again later in the year to test the younger students on their skills to prepare them for the CNA exam.

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