New HSE posters in schools remind children and teenagers about hand hygiene

HSE Media Release: 17 September 2020

We all know that proper hand hygiene is a key factor in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and other infections. The posters will act as a reminder to pupils to clean their hands. 

The posters have been distributed to all schools along with a letter from Dr John Cuddihy, Interim Director for the HPSC and Professor Martin Cormican, HSE lead for Infection Control. A hand hygiene video aimed at younger children is available on Younger children can catch COVID-19 and can spread COVID-19 to others, but this is less common than with older children and adults.

However, they are at increased risk of catching many other infections because they:

  •  tend to sneeze and cough into their hands
  •  their immune systems that have not yet had the experience of dealing with many germs
  •  have a lot of contact with each other when playing and learning
  •  younger children may suck their thumb, rub their eyes and put things in their mouths.

The posters have versions for primary schools and secondary schools and both are available in Irish and English. They are aimed at assisting teachers and crèches to teach some of the key hand hygiene messages. The new hand hygiene posters complement the respiratory etiquette posters that we distributed to schools earlier this year.

Dr John Cuddihy, Interim Director, HSE HPSC Director says:

“It is so important that we do everything to protect children’s health.  Teaching hand hygiene will help reduce the spread of infections, including COVID-19, in schools and at home.  Good respiratory and hand hygiene can help parents reduce the risk of having to stay home from work due to their child’s or their own illness. However, if you are sick it is important to stay home from work or school.  The HSE website has lots of help and advice on managing simple illnesses at home.”

Professor Martin Cormican, HSE National Lead for Infection Control adds:

“Children need to go to school and spend time with other children for normal healthy development. We can’t avoid all the risk that bugs will spread when children are being children, but we can make that risk as small as possible without spoiling all the fun and all the learning.  As well as teaching children to cough and sneeze into their elbow or tissue it’s important they know how to clean their hands. The Wash Wash Your Hands song (listed below) gives enough time to get the job done. No need for a stop-watch just sing the song and stop when you’re finished singing. It’s important to tell children that hand sanitiser is good for hands that look clean but you need soap and water if you can see dirt. Hand sanitiser contains alcohol and chemicals so please don't leave it where young children might swallow it and keep alcohol away from flames.”

There are lots of hand hygiene tips and videos on how to wash your hands. The HSE website has the latest public information on COVID-19.  

Under the Weather has lots of information on looking after common illnesses. The website focuses on using fewer antibiotics and helping people to manage simple illnesses such as colds, coughs, sore throat, earache, rashes and flu on their own. 

The HSE has a very useful online resource for teachers and parents called e-Bug. This is a free educational resource for classroom and home use. It enables fun and accessible learning for all students around micro-organisms, the spread, prevention and treatment of infection.

The school section of the website includes:

  •  detailed lesson plans
  •  fun student worksheets
  •  extension activities
  •  animations
  •  activity demonstrations.


Last updated on: 17 / 09 / 2020