Children's Health

Self-cleaning pen helps prevent school absences at Texas elementary school

Photo courtesy My Fox Atlanta

 (Photo courtesy My Fox Atlanta)

During cold and flu season, schools may stock their classrooms with hand sanitizer and encourage hand-washing, but a school in Texas has gone a step further. By giving its students and teachers a pen that eliminates germs upon contact, Mitchell Elementary School in Georgetown, stayed at about 96.8 percent attendance during a recent flu outbreak, My Fox Atlanta reported.

“All the other schools dropped [in attendance] by a percentage point or two,” Mitchell Elementary principal Ron Dyer told the news station. “And while a percentage point doesn't sound like a lot, when you're talking  about 10,000 kids around the district, if you can increase attendance one percent, that's a major amount of revenue you don't lose.”

He said one absence costs the school about $40, and paying for substitute teachers can be pricey. The need for substitutes at the school is down by 20 percent since introducing the device, called the Cleanpen, in classrooms.

The Cleanpen works as a sanitized pen holder that zaps germs and viruses within 60 seconds after contact. Inside the Cleanpen case is a blue sponge soaked with anti-microbial solution, Cleanpen spokesman David Branscum told The device works similarly to if a user were to take Lysol or alcohol and rub it down. Each one retails for $10.

Branscum added that the average shared pen has about 2,400 germs per square inch, while the average toilet seat has only 54 germs per square inch because they’re usually cleaned more often than pens.

“So if you were to ask me, I’d rather eat off a toilet seat than a plateful of pens,” he told

About 125 Cleanpens are at Georgetown Elementary’s students’ and teachers’ disposal. Next, Dyer plans to arm the school nurse with a customized stethoscope that works similarly to the Cleanpen and has the same anti-microbial sponge.

“It’s about our kids being healthy, keeping our kids healthy in school, and learning,” Dyer told the news station.

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