Feasibility of elementary school children's use of hand gel and facemasks during influenza season

Influenza Other Respir Viruses. 2010 Jul;4(4):223-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-2659.2010.00142.x.


Background: The feasibility of non-pharmacologic interventions to prevent influenza's spread in schools is not well known.

Objectives: To determine the acceptability of, adherence with, and barriers to the use of hand gel and facemasks in elementary schools.

Intervention: We provided hand gel and facemasks to 20 teachers and their students over 4 weeks. Gel use was promoted for the first 2 weeks; mask use was promoted for the second 2 weeks.

Outcomes: Acceptability, adherence, and barriers were measured by teachers' responses on weekly surveys. Mask use was also measured by observation.

Results: The weekly survey response rate ranged from 70% to 100%. Averaged over 2 weeks, 89% of teachers thought gel use was not disruptive (week 1--17/20, week 2--16/17), 95% would use gel next winter (week 1--19/20, week 2--16/17), and 97% would use gel in a pandemic (week 1--20/20, week 2--16/17). Averaged over 2 weeks, 39% thought mask use was not disruptive (week 1--6/17, week 2--6/14), 35% would use masks next winter (week 1--5/17, week 2--6/14), and 97% would use masks in a pandemic (week 1--16/17, week 2--14/14). About 70% estimated that their students used hand gel ≥ 4 x/day for both weeks (week 1--14/20, week 2--13/17). Students' mask use declined over time with 59% of teachers (10/17) estimating regular mask use during week 1 and 29% (4/14) during week 2. By observation, 30% of students wore masks in week 1, while 15% wore masks in week 2. Few barriers to gel use were identified; barriers to mask use were difficulty reading facial expressions and physical discomfort.

Conclusions: Hand gel use is a feasible strategy in elementary schools. Acceptability and adherence with facemasks was low, but some students and teachers did use facemasks for 2 weeks, and most teachers would use masks in their classroom in a pandemic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Faculty
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Gels
  • Hand Disinfection / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Influenza, Human / transmission*
  • Masks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • School Health Services
  • Utah


  • Gels