SHELTON — Principal James “Dr. Z” Zavodjancik and some fellow Booth Hill School teachers got a little sloppy Wednesday, all in the name of showing students ways to avoid getting and spreading the coronavirus.

School nurse supervisor Adrianna Collins, with physical education teacher Nicole Swercewski, led a school-wide assembly that featured facts on the virus and experiments designed to pique the students’ interest while educating them on proper hand washing and hygiene.

“We want to make this all not so scary for them,” said Collins, who is also part of the district’s Health Emergency Planning Committee, members of which are in contact throughout each day.

“We made sure to mention the coronavirus because some kids are afraid,” added Collins. “We want them to know we are aware there is a virus and stress that they are safe, and we will do everything we can to keep them safe.”

Assemblies or advisories on COVID-19 cases which, worldwide, have topped 121,000 with more than 4,300 deaths, are being held in each of the schools this week. While Shelton schools remain open, interim Superintendent Beth Smith today released a list of postponed or canceled activities.

"The reason everyone is afraid,” Collins told the students, “is the unknown. We are not sure what this virus has in store, how it passes to people, how long it lasts on surfaces. That’s why it is so important to wash your hands. The one thing we do know, we can stop the spread with us, as long as we are washing our hands and taking care of our bodily fluids.”

The assembly included a short film on germs and viruses followed by a skit by Collins and Swercewski.

During the practical part, Zavodjancik donned a white body suit, complete with hoodie, and stood some 8 feet away from a student who sprayed colored water toward him from the long distance.

Zavodjancik had colored spray all over the suit, demonstrating how germs spread so easily, to the screams of “ohhhhh” and “yuck” from the youngsters.

What this showed, Collins said, was that germs from a cough can travel 8 feet, so covering your mouth when you cough is key.

Collins then lined up a group of teachers, put some blue paint on her hand and shook hands with one of the teachers. The teachers then went down the line, high-fiving or shaking hands. Each had blue on their hand, demonstrating that if you do not wash your hands, germs easily spread.

Swercewski then demonstrated how to wash hands. Students were told to wash their hands for 20 to 30 seconds, singing the Happy Birthday song while doing it to make sure they washed for the right amount of time.

Collins said if you sneeze, cover your mouth with a tissue, then throw the tissue away and wash your hands.

Students talked about “hot spots” for germs, such as spaces in the cafeteria, the restrooms and door knobs.

“If you are washing your hands correctly, using an air dryer is OK,” said Collins. “If you are walking out of a public restroom, use paper towels or your sleeve and open the door.”

Collins emphasized that most germs come from the mouth when a person coughs. That led Collins to suggest students use the once-popular move “the dab” to cover their mouth when they sneeze or cough.

Instead of hand shakes, Collins, a diehard Star Wars fan, said the school could have its own hand shake — the Baby Yoda, which means holding up three fingers on each hand and doing a leg kick when seeing a friend.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com