Children are wonderful. They're tons of fun, and they are always brimming with information for you after a day at school. They're also disgusting little walking petri dishes who pick their noses, forget to cover their coughs, neglect their hand washing, and share entirely too much with one another. In short, they're just like all of us, only amplified to maximum ew. Finding easy and simple ways for kids to avoid the flu at school is no elementary feat, but there are ways to mitigate the risk that your child contracts this year's bug and decrease the risk they bring it home to you.
This year's flu virus is proving to be a deadly one. Just this morning, I awoke to news of yet another child dying in my area of the influenza virus. While there's no way to completely eliminate all the risks involved with sending your child to school short of a hazmat suit, there are strategies you can teach your children to encourage better habits like sanitizing and hand washing. In doing this, the goal is to educate your child, and in turn, educate others in the process by which you might improve everyone's chances of avoiding the virus.
The only other alternative is blatant and utter truancy, which is apparently frowned upon by law. Weird.
1. Get The Flu Shot
The best way to avoid the flu is to do all you can to prevent it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is not too late to get a flu shot, and everyone over 6 months old should be getting one. No, it's not 100 percent effective, but it's still better than nothing.
2. Wash Hands
Teach your children proper handwashing technique. That means to wash in warm water with soap for at least 20 seconds, or about the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice.
3. Teach Them How To Elephant
Tell them to "Make an elephant trunk" when coughing or sneezing. They need to cough or sneeze directly into their elbow to avoid spreading their germs into the air or onto their hand which will therefore touch other surfaces, contaminating them.
4. Give Them Sanitizer
If your children are old enough to learn how to use sanitizer, pack one in their bag, and stuff one in their pocket. Encourage them to use it. While policy differs from school to school, all of the teachers I spoke with say that it's allowed in their school and actually encouraged. Just make sure they realize it's not a substitute for proper hand hygiene.
5. Gift The Classroom Lysol Wipes
Schools are closing left and right because of this flu. If you can, gift your classroom more antibacterial cleaning wipes. Ohio teacher Ashleigh Albrecht tells Romper, "We run out of wipes for the desks and surfaces in a hurry. It's always appreciated and helpful for the parents to send in more if they can."
6. Tell Your Kids Not To Trade Lunches
We all did it as kids. "You can have my chips if I can have your pickle." It's innocent enough, and it's a fun part of lunch. This time of year, however? It's gross city. Tell your kids to keep their lunch to themselves and avoid the other kids' food.
7. Don't Send Your Kids To School Sick
This sucks, I know. With many parents without paid sick leave, it often feels as if we have no option but to send our kids to school regardless of if they're sick or not. It's tragic that we still prioritize maximum profit over health and productivity, but that's where we are. If your child is ill, keep them home until they feel better and have been fever-free for over 24 hours. I know how burdensome this can be — my daughter has had a low fever for four days, and will likely miss another day of school. It's very frustrating, but it's necessary that she stays home.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.