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Reducing the Spread of Illness At School

Whenever children are together, there is a chance of spreading infections. This is especially true among young children who are likely to use their hands to wipe their noses or rub their eyes and then handle toys or touch other children. These children then touch their noses and rub their eyes so the virus goes from the nose or eyes of one child by way of hands or toys to the next child who then rubs his own eyes or nose.

Even with prevention measures, it is likely that some infections will be spread in the child care center. For many of these infections, a child is contagious a day or more before he has symptoms. Be sure to wash your and your child’s hands frequently. You never know when your child or another child is passing a virus or bacteria. Sometimes your child will become sick while at child care or school and need to go home. You will need to have a plan so someone can pick him up. See When to Keep Your Child Home from Child Care.

Fortunately, not all illnesses are contagious (like ear infections). In these cases, there’s no need to separate your sick child from the other children or classmates. Most medications can be scheduled to be given only at home. If your child needs medication during the day, be sure that the facility or school has clear procedures and staff who have training to give medication. Ask what they do to be sure they have the right child, receiving the right medication, at the right time, by the right route and in the right dose–-and document each dose.

Measures to Promote Good Hygiene in Child Care & School:

To reduce the risk of disease in child care settings as well as schools, the facility should meet certain criteria that promote good hygiene.

  1. Are there sinks in every room, and are there separate sinks for preparing food and washing hands? Is food handled in areas separate from the toilets and diaper-changing tables?

  2. Are the toilets and sinks clean and readily available for the children and staff? Are disposable paper towels used so each child will use only his own towel and not share with others?

  3. Are toys that infants and toddlers put in their mouths sanitized before others can play with them?

  4. Are all doors and cabinet handles, drinking fountains, all surfaces in the toileting and diapering areas cleaned and disinfected at the end of every day?

  5. Are all changing tables and any potty chairs cleaned and disinfected after each use?

  6. Are staff and other children fully immunized, especially against the flu?

  7. Is food brought in from home properly stored? Is food prepared on site properly handled?

  8. Is breast milk labeled and stored correctly?

  9. Are children and their caregivers or teachers instructed to wash their hands throughout the day, including:

  10. When they arrive at the facility

  11. Before and after handling food, feeding a child, or eating

  12. After using the toilet, changing a diaper, or helping a child use the bathroom (Following a diaper change, the caregiver’s and child’s hands should be washed and the diaper-changing surfaces should be disinfected.)

  13. After helping a child wipe his nose or mouth or tending to a cut or sore

  14. After playing in sandboxes

  15. Before and after playing in water that is used by other children

  16. Before and after staff members give medicine to a child

  17. After handling waste baskets or garbage

  18. After handling a pet or other animal

  19. Make sure your own child understands good hygiene and the importance of hand washing after using the toilet and before and after eating.

  20. Is health consultation available to deal with outbreaks or to review policies?

If you have questions on how to keep your child safe this school year or at a care facility please give the providers at Kids First Raleigh (919-250-3478) and Clayton (919-267-1499) a call.

Additional Information & Resources:

*This article is informational but is not a substitute for medical attention or information from your provider.


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