Cold and flu season isn’t far away, and with a new virus, Enterovirus D68, grabbing headlines for its unusually high rate of child illness and hospitalization, this seems like a good time for a refresher course about virus prevention.
Help keep the Morgan Park Academy community healthy this school year by practicing these 10 ways to avoid catching a cold or another virus, both at home and at school:
1. Stay Home
The first thing to keep in mind: Keep students home from school if they are ill. (Symptoms include cough, sore throat, wheezing, diarrhea, vomiting, or a fever over 100 degrees.) This is important not only for the sick student, but also for the other members of our school community.
2. Wash Your Hands
Everyone should wash their hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for about 20 seconds, which is the time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Rinse well with warm water and dry with a paper towel. MPA teachers in the Lower School always make time for student hand-washing before lunch or snack and after using the bathroom.
3. Use Hand Sanitizers
If soap and water is not available, using an alcohol-based sanitizer or wipe is a good alternative. Most of our classrooms have hand sanitizer available for students.
4. Hands Off
Help us teach children to not touch their nose, eyes, or mouth when they have dirty hands.
5. Muffle Coughs and Sneezes
Cover coughs and sneezes. Cough or sneeze into a tissue, throw it in the trash, and immediately wash hands. We teach Lower School students to do the “alligator” cough or sneeze. Sneezing into the crook of the elbow prevents germs from collecting on hands for transfer to common surfaces.
6. Don’t Share
As much as we pride ourselves on our caring and sharing environment, staying healthy means students should not share items such as food, drinks, lipstick, lip balm, ear buds, gym clothes, gloves, or hats with their friends at school.
7. Keep the Environment Clean
Students should clean out their backpacks and lockers regularly. Use a wet cloth or sanitary wipe to remove debris and rotting food.
8. Disinfect, Disinfect, Disinfect
Frequently disinfect common surfaces such as desks, sinks, drinking fountains, computers, doorknobs, and toys.
9. Boost Your Immune System
Get plenty of sleep and exercise, avoid stress, and eat a well-balanced diet. Drink lots of water!
10. Get Immunized
The Centers for Disease Control recommends flu shots for the entire family. We encourage all members of the MPA community to stop by our flu shot clinic on Friday, Oct. 17, during our Relay for Life event.
By Rebecca McGovern, R.N., B.S.N.
Nurse McGovern is our school nurse. She has worked in the school environment for 16 years after spending a decade on active duty with the United States Air Force, with assignments worldwide.