Did you know schools experience multiple financial effects as a result of illness-related absenteeism? Funding for schools in all 50 states is tied to attendance in one way or another, and there is often a direct correlation between the two. In addition, there are substantial costs associated with covering absent teachers, and in the event of a major outbreak, the cost of resolving the incident can be in the millions.
This article explains how a comprehensive hand hygiene program centered on PURELL™ products
enables schools to maximize their funding and mitigate expenses by helping to keep students and teachers healthier.
Quantifying the Financial Impact: Direct and Indirect Costs of Absenteeism
You may not know this, but when students stay home due to illness, it often has a direct financial impact on their school. Many states base school funding at least in part on student attendance, which means that every missed school day results in dollars being subtracted from the budget.
An investigation by KPBS and the Watchdog Institute based at San Diego State University calculated that public schools in San Diego County lost $102 million due to student absenteeism during the 2009-2010 school year. Over five years, those losses totaled $624 million.
Additionally, schools in Central Texas reportedly lose more than $90 million per year due to absenteeism. According to the E3 Alliance, two school districts in Central Texas were able to save a total of $3 million by increasing student attendance by less than one percentage point.
There are also financial consequences anytime a teacher misses a day of school. In addition to paying the absent teacher’s salary and covering any relevant healthcare expenses, the school must also pay for a substitute.
All of these costs result in opportunity costs—every dollar that is lost to absenteeism can’t be invested in other staff, programs or resources that could help improve student performance.
Reducing Student and Teacher Absenteeism With the PURELL HEALTHY HANDS CAMPAIGN™
Schools can reduce absenteeism for both students and teachers by making hand hygiene products available throughout their facilities. The PURELL Healthy Hands Campaign is a comprehensive hand hygiene program that combines trusted products with educational components to improve the health of the entire school community—driving cost reduction and performance improvement.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that utilizing a comprehensive hand hygiene program throughout the school leads to reduced teacher absenteeism. For example, a study published in 2000 showed a 10% reduction in teacher absenteeism in 16 schools in Delaware, Ohio, Tennessee and California. In 2006, the Solon City Schools in Ohio conducted a study that found a 50% reduction in teacher absenteeism once a hand hygiene program was in place.
Researchers have also examined the link between school hand hygiene programs and student absenteeism. A 2002 study involving five elementary schools in Pennsylvania found that a school can reduce absenteeism by 50% and save on average $167 per student by adopting a hand hygiene program centered on PURELL™ products. This study was initiated and conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Maryanne McGukin, and the results were scrutinized in an independent peer review and published in the American Journal of Infection Control.
Another study conducted independently by the Columbus City Public Schools in 2007 found that student absenteeism was approximately 40% lower in three schools that received hand sanitizer and training, compared to three schools in a control group.
The cost of the PURELL HEALTHY HANDS CAMPAIGN™ is typically $2-4 per student per year. For many schools, reducing absenteeism by one student per day per year would more than pay for the program.
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