As the school season approaches, countless parents and children look forward to new experiences that will nurture growth. Unfortunately, school also means colds, coughs and runny noses. If you’d like to keep your child healthy throughout the school year, learn how germs spread and find out how to limit exposure.
Germs at School
Anytime kids find themselves in close quarters, germs tend to thrive. Not always focused on good hygiene, children often have poor habits that allow viruses and bacteria to quickly spread. Among the most common ways include:
- Touching the face: Whether they are touching their own faces or that of another child, kids tend to spread germs from the hands to the eyes, nose and mouth.
- Hands to food: Lunchtime is primetime for germs, especially when kids fail to wash their hands.
- Coughing and sneezing: Airborne illnesses thrive in classrooms, which tend to bunch kids closely together.
- Touching surfaces: Whether it’s a desk, pencil, toy or pair of scissors, most any surface can harbor germs.
It’s not always possible to keep kids from contracting infectious illnesses, such as influenza and the common cold. That said, there are ways to reduce the risk of exposure. These include:
- Teach children the importance of thoroughly washing their hands, especially before lunchtime.
- Get a seasonal flu vaccine to protect against the most common seasonal strain of the virus.
- Encourage children to use hand sanitizer whenever it’s available.
- Try to teach your children not to touch their faces or put their fingers in their mouths.
- Tell children to cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing.
- Encourage your children to keep their hands to themselves.
Staying Home When Sick
Busy work schedules can make it hard for parents to keep their kids home when they’re sick. Unfortunately, when sick kids go to school, they can cause widespread outbreaks that affect numerous children. If your kids exhibit symptoms of an infection, err on the side of caution and keep them home until they feel better.