Flu/allergy season

TOP; Werner reccomends that if you sneeze or cough that you have a tissue nearby to prevent spreading germs in the classroom. BOTTOM; Another step to prevent illness during the school year is proper hand-washing.

As students return to school, they are more susceptible to picking up germs, bacteria and viruses in group and classroom environments.

Connie Werner, a nurse and clinic supervisor with the St. Joseph Health Department, said the first step to preventing illness in classrooms is by getting your kids vaccinated.

“The very first thing we’re always going to recommend is to make sure that your vaccinations are up to date,” she said. “That’s not just the flu shots, but that’s all of our vaccinations, because a lot of times prevention is the best way to keep you safe.”

Werner said the next step is teaching children how to behave around others in public when it comes to coughing or sneezing.

“Start teaching your children proper behavior, meaning that when they cough or sneeze, they have a tissue available,” she said. “If you don’t have a tissue, then do it in the corner of your elbow instead of out into the world to share with everyone.”

Another step to prevent illness during the school year is proper hand-washing.

“It sounds so simple, but most of us don’t do it correctly. We don’t do it for the right length of time, a lot of children especially won’t use soap” Werner said.

“They just get their hands wet and then dry them off and run out to go to the next thing. The friction when washing your hands with soap and water is what really kills the germs, and if people would probably wash their hands, both young and old, then it would greatly reduce the amount of illness around us.”

Werner also advises healthy practices at home to prevent your child picking up something in the classroom.

“Having proper habits at home can carry over into school. So it can be getting your children as healthy as possible to send them into the world, out into school, and out into the community,” she said. “That means not only getting the vaccinations, but also making sure your children get enough sleep, making sure that they have a healthy diet and that they’re getting exercise.

“Having those healthy habits built really gives your kid and their immune system a stronger foundation when they go off into meeting multiple people,” Werner said.

Abby Trapp can be reached at abby.trapp@newspressnow.com Follow on Twitter at @NPNowTrapp