Keeping kids healthy as they head back to school

Health

Classrooms can be ground zero for the spread of germs

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Many kids in Oregon and Washington are heading back to school in less than a month so it’s time to start gathering supplies and adjusting your sleep routines.

It’s also time to prepare for fall and winter illnesses that creep back into your homes.

CDC back to school recommendations

Dr. Jennifer Vines with the Multnomah County Health Department said the classroom can be ground zero for the spread of sickness.

“Certainly colds and other things spread in schools easily, where they have close contact and they’re eating together and spending a lot of time together,” Vines said.

A child gets a checkup at the doctor. (KOIN)

That’s why it’s important to teach your children good hygiene before they head back to school.

“Teach your kids and model for your kids good handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes and especially handwashing after changing diapers and before preparing food,” Vines said.

When kids do get sick, Dr. Alan Melnick with Clark County Public Health said they need to be at home.

“If your child has gi symptoms, has respiratory symptoms — they really need to be at home and not in school and the same thing goes for daycare as well,” Melnick said.

The doctors suggest kids stay at home for at least 24 hours after a fever subsides and 24 hours after vomiting for diarrhea ends.

“Kids can have runny noses and that go on for a while,” Melnick said. “But when they are symptomatic and sick, I think they should be at home.”

Back to school checklist: Pencils, binders, vaccines

And don’t forget about the flu shot.

“You will probably see me again on television saying ‘get your flu shot,’ when they come online, which is usually anytime between late August and early October,” Vines said.

Then there’s lice — not a public health concern, but a pain for parents.

“One of the things I want to mention about lice is they don’t jump,” Melnick said. “Kids shouldn’t be sharing clothes and hats and things like that with other kids. It’s uncomfortable, so the kids do need to be treated.”

Doctors recommend checking your kids for lice once a week.

The CDC estimates that there are up to 12 million cases of lice each year and treatment costs up to $1 billion.

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