CHARLOTTE, SC — March 28, 2019 — Diversey, a manufacturer of cleaning and hygiene products, recently released a white paper titled, “Routine Hand Hygiene in Schools and its Impact on Absenteeism.” Written by Peter Teska, infection prevention application expert for Diversey, and Jim Gauthier, senior clinical advisor for Diversey, the white paper explores the relationship between hand hygiene, infection, and absenteeism of students and teachers.

The authors point out that absenteeism is a crucial issue because it affects funding for schools. In the United States, students miss an average of 4.5 days a year, and teachers miss an average of 5.3 days. One benchmark for U.S. schools receiving state funding is attendance and excessive absenteeism can put that funding at risk, according to the authors. Additionally, teacher absences cost schools an average of $530 per teacher per year in substitute teacher costs.

One main cause of absenteeism is illness caused by the spread of bacteria and viruses. The most common infections spread in schools are respiratory infections, such as cold and flu, and gastrointestinal infections, such as norovirus and rotavirus. These infections can spread from person to person as well as from surfaces to person. The authors point out that although there is a common misconception that infectious organisms do not survive long on surfaces, research shows that some viruses can survive for up to two months on surfaces.

The authors explain that a review of the scientific literature in this area reveals that more study is needed to draw firm conclusions. Some studies have shown a strong correlation between improved hand hygiene and reduced absenteeism, but other studies have been unable to determine how much of an impact hand hygiene has on the spread of infection among students. The authors note that much of the research in this area is low quality and conclude that “There is likely a link between hand hygiene and student absenteeism in schools, but the current quality of evidence is not strong enough to determine the strength of that relationship even though some studies have demonstrated a strong relationship between hand hygiene and reducing student illness.”

To download Diversey’s complete white paper, “Routine Hand Hygiene in Schools and its Impact on Absenteeism,” click here.


Diversey is a manufacturer of products and solutions for infection prevention, kitchen hygiene, fabric care, building care, and consulting in the health care, food service, retail, hospitality, and facility services industries. For more information, visit https://www.diversey.com/.