Let’s Double-Down on Hand Washing & Hygiene Etiquette

Getting regular checkups and following a doctor's orders are good ways to stay healthy.

Keep ill children home. Making your child “tough it out” at school can put vulnerable children in harm’s way.

Each school year we are successful in creating an environment where the vast majority of students remain healthy throughout flu season. This success comes from a janitorial staff focused and detailed in its work, teachers who make extra efforts to wipe down desks and sinks during the day and students who diligently wash their hands, cover their coughs, stay home when they are sick and get their flu shots.

Occasionally, even our best efforts are not enough to keep absence from illness below 10 percent.

On Dec. 8, DMPS notified the Polk County Health Department we had one school with a 10 percent absence, mostly due to colds, strep, flu and an intestinal virus.

“This is a good time to remind everyone to thoroughly wash their hands with warm water for the length of time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday to you’ twice through,” said DMPS Director of Health Services, Marci Cordaro. “Wash your hands after using the bathroom, before preparing food and before eating.”

While hand sanitizer is helpful against some germs, the Centers for Disease Control says hand washing is still the number one way to kill and/or wash away germs, especially those germs associated with intestinal viruses.

Also, remember to practice good hygiene etiquette by covering all coughs and staying home when feeling ill. Make a plan for what your family will do if your student should need to be cared for at home. Students may return to school once a fever is gone for 24 hours without the assistance of fever-reducing medications.

As Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk told KCCI TV, “We certainly understand that keeping an ill child home from school or daycare puts a burden on working parents who have to adjust their work schedule to be home as well. But the risk of severe illness is very real. Even if you think your child can ‘stick it out’ for the school day, it’s important to remember that other children in the classroom may be at risk for serious complications from the flu and your child could spread the virus to them. This includes children with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions.”

Following these guidelines will protect your student and your student’s classmates, whose families are most likely just as concerned as you are about the flu season.

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