Nicole Keller, DO
Pediatrician, Rush Copley Medical Group
As kids head back to the classroom this fall, parents become concerned with shopping for supplies and scheduling school activities, but parents should also consider what they can do to protect their child’s health. With kids sharing desks, pencil sharpeners, doorknobs and faucets, it's a sure bet that germs are shared as well.
Here are a few ways you can help keep kids healthy this school year:
Teach Hand Washing — Children of all ages should be taught that washing their hands is one of the best ways to help avoid catching a cold or the flu.
Don’t Share Everything – By nature, children like to share things. But if they are sharing things like food, cups, glasses and other bacteria-prone objects, they are also sharing their germs.
Check Immunizations — Make sure your child is current on immunizations. To help prevent the flu, have your child get the influenza vaccine in the fall.
Make Time for ZZZs — Late bedtimes during the week can take a toll on kid’s health. Children who get an adequate amount of sleep are more likely to function better at school and less likely to have behavior issues.
Sometimes no matter how hard we try to prevent illness, it can still occur. Parents should always consult with their child’s teacher to review any policies that apply to students and illnesses. If you are unsure of when to keep your child home, ask yourself the following questions:
Does your child feel well enough to comfortably participate in classroom activities?
Did the doctor diagnose a contagious illness that should keep your sick kid at home?
Does your child have any of the following symptoms?
- Fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- Any type of rash (especially accompanied by a fever or behavior change)
- Signs of severe illness like uncontrolled coughing, difficulty breathing, wheezing or persistent crying
If the answer is yes, most schools will require that your child stay home until the illness is no longer contagious.
All the precautions in the world can’t entirely prevent illness, but by taking some steps to protect your child’s health, you can help them have a safe, fun and healthy school year.