Scrubs for Teachers: An Idea Gaining Momentum

You expect to see nurses in scrubs and doctors in white lab coats when you visit the hospital. Now, everything we think we know about medical uniforms could be on the verge of falling apart thanks to a new idea that is gaining momentum in school districts across the country. What is that idea? To allow teachers to wear scrubs for the upcoming school year.

Teachers in scrubs would make any public school look like a health clinic. Whether or not that is bad for students is a matter still being debated. But as the debate rages, teachers are increasingly asking permission to set aside their professional clothing and wear scrubs instead. Their reasoning is simple.

Cleaning Scrubs Daily

So what is going on? Teachers heading back to the classroom are obviously cognizant of the need to be careful about germs. Assuming the safest way to go is to wash their clothes in hot, soapy water at the end of each day, many are worried about ruining their work clothing. They spend good money on nice slacks, blouses, etc. They do not want to subject them to excessive washing.

As the thinking goes, scrubs are easier to wash and maintain. It is also assumed that they are designed to be washed more often. And if they do fade and look worn, no big deal. At least that is the thinking among teachers and teachers’ unions.

Are school districts going for it? Yes, indeed. The Garland Independent School District, in the Dallas area, has already agreed to scrubs for the coming school year. So has the Lancaster Independent School District. There are likely many, many more across the country at least thinking about the idea.

Going One Step Further

Let us assume that scrubs are the way to go for teachers this fall. Fine. But let’s take it one step further. Is it wise for teachers to buy their own scrubs, wear them to and from work, and then launder than at home? Probably not. Scrubs are most effective when they are left at work and laundered by a service provider like Salt Lake City-based Alsco.

It is understandable that teachers want access to scrubs in order to protect their own clothing. But if contamination is really a big issue, protecting personal clothing should take a backseat to stopping the spread of the virus. That suggests school districts agreeing to scrubs only if teachers agree to have them professionally laundered.

Not only would professional laundering do for schools what it does for hospitals, it would also be a boon for the linen services industry. Providers reeling from the loss of hospitality business could make up some of those losses by supplying school districts with scrubs. It is a solution where everyone benefits.

Residential Machines Don’t Cut It

One last thing to note here is that residential washing machines generally don’t cut it when it comes to ensuring garments are hygienically clean. They do not get hot enough for starters. Moreover, household laundry detergents don’t necessarily address the pathogens scrubs tend to collect.

If school districts are going to go to scrubs this fall, that’s fine. But they shouldn’t stop half-way by having teachers buy their own scrubs and wash them at home. They should take the idea to its fullest extent and contract with local laundry providers to supply and launder the scrubs.

Professional laundering is the only way to guarantee that scrubs come back clean. It is the only way to prevent teachers from carrying germs home on their work clothes. If we are going to do it, we might as well go all the way.