For kids, back to school doesn’t just mean back to a place of learning; it’s back to the breeding ground of germs. WebMd reports that young children have colds 8 times a year and, combined, they miss more than 22 million school days because of the common cold.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest getting the flu vaccine, avoiding close contact with those who are sick, and taking measures to avoid the spread of germs. You can help stop the spread of germs by covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, avoiding contact with the eyes, nose and mouth, and washing the hands frequently.
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WebMD offers these tips to help your kids avoid the germs in the school room. You’ll find some useful suggestions to keep healthy at work, too.
Wash your hands frequently throughout the school day. Using warm, soapy water, scrub vigorously for at least 20 seconds or about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
Verify the hand washing policy of staff.
Send your child equipped with mechanical pencils. Studies show that the dirtiest thing in the classroom is the community pencil sharpener. Steer your kids clear of those!
Wipe down common surfaces with disinfectant. Ask to make sure common surfaces are cleaned. The American Medical Association reports that 50% of teachers report cleaning their rooms themselves.
Carefully wipe down desks and keyboards.
Send functional tissues to school with your kids. “The latest trend in tissues are virucidal tissues,” says Schachter, MD, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai in New York City, and the author of The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds and Flu. These tissues prevent the spread of viruses around the house because it kills them when you blow your nose.” Encourage you child to cover his nose or mouth when sneezing or coughing and after using a tissue, throw it away.” Also, sneeze into tissues and cough into your elbow instead of your hands.
Don’t borrow crayons.
Make sure community toys are clean.
Hang your backpack in the restroom. “The bottom of women’s purses are pretty bad,” says Charles Gerba, PhD, a professor of microbiology at University of Arizona in Tucson. “About 25% have fecal bacteria because women put it down on the toilet floor in restroom,” he explains. “Encourage your son or daughter to hang their backpack on a hook if they take it to the school restroom.”
Ask if the teacher can use a special air filter to keep the air clean. “High-efficiency particulate-arresting (HEPA) filters, available at discount drug stores for about $40 to $100, can remove 99.97% of the pollen, dust, animal dander, and even bacteria from the air,” Schachter says.