5 Ways to Prevent Your Child From Getting Sick at School

Children's Health

Aug 19, 2023


Parents, if you want to prevent your child from getting sick at school, you need these tips.

Is it normal for kids to get sick at school? Absolutely! Back-to-school season also means a higher chance of back-to-school sickness for your young ones. Because children are not as aware of germs and illnesses as adults are, their overall health is not exactly at the top of their minds. In school, they are likely more focused on spending time with their friends, playing outside, and (hopefully) their classwork. 

How do I keep my child healthy in school? It is our job as parents to teach our children back-to-school health tips and proper techniques so they can avoid getting sick at school. 

Tip #1: Teach them hand-washing 101

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Um, my kids already know how to wash their hands,” hear us out. When your kid is at school, you won’t be able to monitor when and how often they are washing their hands. Are they washing their hands before and after meals or recess? Are they washing their hands for a full 20 seconds like you taught them?

Before your kid heads off to school, educate them on how to properly wash their hands and when to wash their hands (hint: having them wash their hands when they get home is a great starting point!). 

How to properly wash your hands

Here are the proper hand-washing steps to teach your child while they’re at school:

  • Step 1: Wet your hands with clean water
  • Step 2: Take some soap in your hands and rub them together
  • Step 3: For no less than 20 seconds, rub your palms, the back of your hands, and scrub underneath your fingernails
  • Step 4: Rinse your hands with clean water
  • Step 5: Dry your hands completely with a clean paper towel and throw it away.

Does hand sanitizer work as well as hand washing? While hand sanitizer can kill more bacteria, hand-washing is the only effective method for removing dirt and other impurities from the hands. You should encourage your child to use both in tandem by washing their hands first and then taking a bit of hand sanitizer for perfectly clean hands!

When to wash your hands

Now that your child is well aware of how to wash their hands, it’s also important to teach them when and how often to wash their hands while they’re at school. A child should wash their hands…

  • Any time after using the bathroom 
  • Before and after any meal (lunch, snack time, etc.)
  • Before and after recess or any time being outside (this includes P.E. class)
  • After playing with toys that other children have touched 
  • After coughing or sneezing

Teaching your child proper hand washing techniques can increase their chances of not catching any illness at school.

Tip #2: Teach them how to cough and sneeze properly 

One of the most common ways that illness can spread in the classroom is if a child coughs or sneezes and does not properly cover their nose or mouth. This allows germs to spread even if the child is not technically ill. 

While around other students, teach your child to cough into their elbows and sneeze into a tissue — not into their hands. This is the best way to avoid spreading germs to other objects which can result in another child getting sick. 

If your child accidentally coughs or sneezes into their hands, accidents happen! Just remind them to immediately go wash their hands and to remind other kids to do the same. 

Tip #3: Have them keep their distance from other sick children

One of the best ways to know how to prevent your child from getting sick at school is to have your child keep their distance from other kids that are sick in their class. We know that it can be difficult for your child to say no to playing with another kid, but if that child is sick, your child will be at high risk of catching whatever is going around. 

Remind your child to not ignore any kid who is sick in a mean way, but to gently encourage them to let them know they’ll play with them once they’re feeling better. 

Tip #4: Educate them on safe sharing

We all know that sharing is caring, but when your child becomes a little too comfortable sharing items such as utensils and snacks with other kids, they could get sick. It’s very common for children to get sick at school from drinking after another student or eating a cookie that another student already touched — which can also result in food poisoning in kids in some cases due to possible contamination.

Teaching your child that certain items, especially food items, should be kept to themselves for safety can prevent them from catching any illnesses. Sharing toys and school supplies can be encouraged as long as everyone’s hands are clean.

Tip #5: Keep them home if they don’t feel well

We’ve all heard the phrase “Mom, I don’t feel well,” from our kids on school mornings. And let’s face it, some of us have likely said it to our own parents to try and get out of class! However, if your child is telling you that they don’t feel well, ask them about their symptoms and investigate before making any judgment calls.

Should I send my child to school with a cough and runny nose? 

If your child is not running a fever, they technically can still go to school; however, we would advise against this if possible. Unless your child has allergies that you understand how to manage, the cough and runny nose could infect someone else’s child and keep them out of school as well. It’s always best to monitor the situation and keep them out of the classroom. 

So, is it okay for a child to go to school with a cold? In some circumstances, yes, but if other symptoms are present such as a  fever, headache, or shortness of breath, keep them at home. If your child simply has a light cough and a runny nose, have them follow the rest of the tips above to not infect other children. 

Did your child get sick at school? Complete Care is here to help them feel better in no time!

Getting sick at school can be a scary thing for both you and your child. If your kid came home from school not feeling well, monitor their symptoms to see what could be happening. The best way to beat back-to-school sickness is to have them checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible. In need of 24-hour pediatrics? Complete Care’s doctors can help your child get in, out, and back in the classroom in no time. 

We have multiple ER locations in Texas (Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas, Lubbock, and San Antonio) and in Colorado Springs that are all open 24/7 for you and your family to come in and get quality care whenever you need it.

Check out our other resources on how to prevent your child from getting sick at school including our article on how to stay healthy during the flu season. Happy back-to-school!

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