Keep the family healthy during the school year

It’s no surprise that when kids head back to the classroom, sometimes they bring home more than homework.

And while keeping sick days to a minimum can be a real challenge during the school year, according to Dan Allan, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, we can avoid the spread of many contagious illnesses with good hand hygiene.

“You want to make sure that you use plenty of soap, and you want to wash your hands long enough to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice – which is around thirty seconds,” he said.

Dr. Allan said when washing hands, be sure to get around the thumbs, the backs of the hands, and under the finger nails.

He said parents should encourage kids to wash their hands frequently, especially before eating and after using the restroom.

It’s also best to keep the family’s health habits top of mind.

“People who are well-rested, well-nourished, managing their stress and eating properly are going to definitely be less-susceptible to falling ill, however, if you’re not careful with good hand-washing, you could still catch whatever is going around,” said Dr. Allan.

If a little one is unfortunate enough to pick up a bug, he said keeping them home from school until they are better is the best way to let them recover, and to prevent the illness from spreading to their classmates.

“If they have an active fever, they should stay home,” said Dr. Allan. “If they’re showing any symptoms of stomach upset – vomiting or diarrhea – they should not be going to school. If they’re not able to function properly – feeling very lethargic or very tired – they’re not going to do well at school and they are probably still infected.”

Dr. Allan said it’s also a good idea to give the house a thorough cleaning after everyone is feeling better, using a bleach-based solution, and to also wash children’s bedding and stuffed animals in hot water.