Absenteeism is Expensive - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Absenteeism is Expensive

Information for school administrators on why they should encourage handwashing curricula.

Download a print version of this document:
Absenteeism is Expensive (PDF)

On this page:
Costs in time and money
Check it out: the teacher tally
Student sub-totals
Ka-Ching! It costs more to NOT wash!
In short

  • Approximately 1/5 of the population attends or works in schools.
    (U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics. Digest of Education Statistics, 1999, NCES 2000-031, Washington, C.D. 2000.)
  • When illness occurs, the cash register of “lost days and dollars” starts to ring!

Costs in time and money

  • Administration:
    Paying substitute teachers
  • Teachers:
    Re-teaching absent students
  • Parents:
    Worry, lost work days, and additional health care expenses with an ill child at home
  • Food Service:
    Decreased participation in school meals

Check it out: the teacher tally

  • Teacher illness costs time and money. In fact, teachers can be school
    more days per year than students: An average of 5.3 days a year due
    to illness, where as students are absent 4.5 days a year.
    (Ohlund LS, Ericcson KB. Elementary school achievement and absence due to illness. Journal of General Psychology. 1994;155:409-421)
  • Sample Equation: Number of teacher sick days per year x the daily fee
    for a substitute = your school’s cost for teacher illness.

Student sub-totals

  • Student absenteeism affects achievement. It not only puts the sick students behind, but often makes other students have to “wait” for them to catch up.
  • Students don’t wash their hands often or well. In one study, only 58% of female and 48% of male middle and high school students washed their hands after using the bathroom.
    • And of these, only 33% of the females and 8% of the males used soap.
      (Guinan ME, McGuckin-Guinan M, Sevareid A. Who washes hands after using the bathroom? American Journal of Infection Control. 1997;24(5):424-425.)

  • 52.2 million cases of the common cold affect Americans under the age of 17 each year.
    (CDC, 1996.)

Ka-Ching! It costs more to NOT wash!

  • While commitment to hand washing means commitment of time and supplies, the costs of NOT washing are far greater than the cost of washing.

In short

These germs are gross, and they’re running rampant. So who wouldn’t want to keep them from spreading? Your first step is to get your students motivated to create a school-wide campaign to promote good, old-fashioned clean hands. And it’s so easy, you can begin today.

aimges of handwashing with pennies and no handwashing with dollars

The information contained on this page was compiled by The Soap and Detergent Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services. This information is not copyrighted and is intended for educational purposes only.


Updated Monday, 03-Oct-2016 10:26:16 CDT