Hand washing bill garners support
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Some Illinois legislators are trying to make good hygiene the law in the state’s public schools.
A bill being considered in the Illinois House of Representatives would require public schoolchildren to wash their hands with antiseptic soap before eating at school.
Supporters say it will benefit kids like Andrew Wuehler and Lyndon Vickrey, second-graders at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.
The boys say they don’t wash their hands before lunch at school, but do after recess, which takes place after lunch.
"It kind of doesn’t really make sense," Wuehler says.
Some parents, like Kerry Frey, whose stepdaughter is an eighth-grader at Lincoln, think making hand washing mandatory is a good idea.
"I’m all for it," he said. "Hand washing is probably the best thing we can do to stop infections."
Others just think it’s silly. "No law is required for that," said Maud Sosso, who has two kids at Lincoln.
State Rep. Mary Flowers, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the bill, said last week she was offended some of her colleagues didn’t take her bill seriously, but it picked up traction and could find its way to the full House for a vote.
To Patricia McCann, principal at Benjamin E. Mays Academy, an elementary school in Englewood, that’s almost laughable.
"I think it’s ludicrous to pass a law that says you need to wash your hands," she said. "Are the police going to come stand here and make us do it?"
Flowers said the bill isn’t intended to force teachers to micromanage their students’ behavior in the bathroom, but to bring hygiene practices in line with the state’s school code, which already includes good hygiene as part of the curriculum.