For many, next Tuesday (September 3rd) is the first day back to school. For my son, the emails of who his teacher will be next year arrived and with it, a flurry of texts to all my mom friends to find out who else was going to be in his class. He got lucky; several of his buddies are with him. A few of his friends, however, did not get so lucky. I expect there will be a lot of grumbling around the dinner table on Tuesday as we try to pry out how the first day of school went.
The first day of school signifies a number of things; the end of summer, back to school shopping, nerves over meeting your new teacher and entering a new grade where you know the work is going to get harder. For parents it also signifies cold and flu days.
According to the CDC, 40% of children aged 5 – 17 missed 3 or more school days last year because of illness or injury. If you count up all the students, that means nearly 22 million school days are lost due to colds and 38 million school days are lost due to the flu each year. Although 3 days may not seem like a lot to our children, I’m sure that for many of you, 3 days of staying home with a sick kid seems like an eternity and invariably we, as the caretakers, end up getting sick. Thankfully, it’s not that hard to keep germs at bay.
Teach Cough and Snot etiquette because 10,000 is the number of bacteria in a sneeze:
- To avoid spreading germs, teach your child to cough into their elbow and not their hand. This helps minimizing a germ-laden hand from touching all of the high touch surfaces.
- Pack tissue in your child’s bag or send a box of tissue they can keep at their desk so that they can blow their nose and dispose of the contents, rather than wipe their nose with the back of their hand and increase the chance for their secretions to be left on another surface for someone to touch.
Teach hand hygiene because cold and flu germs can survive on surfaces for 72 hours:
- Teach your children early the importance of washing their hands, especially before they eat and always after they have blown their nose or coughed into their hand.
- Help your child’s teacher keep the classroom healthy by donating alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Help keep the classroom clean, because on average, your kid touches 300 surfaces in 30 minutes:
- This is not just the job of the teacher or custodian. Send wet wipes with your child’s lunch and have them get into the practice of wiping down their desk top before they eat. The more frequently the desk top is wiped the less chance germs have to stay on the surface and make your child sick.
- Provide sanitizing wipes to your child’s teacher for their use in the classroom. The more readily available they are, the easier it is to wipe down high touch surfaces that everyone in the class touches, which will help stop the spread of germs.
- Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of disease. Before heading off to school, make sure your child’s vaccinations are up-to-date and that they get the annual flu shot.
You can be sure that on Tuesday, aside from taking the obligatory first day of school picture, I’ll be “reminding” my son to wash his hands and help keep the classroom clean!