From the School Health Nurse
School staff have a key role in preventing the transmission of diseases in child care and the school environment. While it is often difficult to prevent the transmission of common respiratory (colds/flu) infections that occur, every effort should be made to minimise the spread of infection by encouraging:
- staff and children attending school or childcare to stay at home in the early stages of illness as they are likely to be more infectious and transmit the virus/bacteria to others, via coughing, sneezing and, contaminating surfaces that they touch.
- staff working in schools or childcare organisations, including the children, should remain absent until they are symptom free if they have a cold or influenza.
- parents to seek medical advice if their child has ongoing symptoms of illness.
The following links provide further information and are from the Healthy WA website.
Upper respiratory tract infections or colds are everywhere, especially in winter, so it is almost impossible to stop children from catching them. Here are some points which may help reduce the incidence.
- Teach your child to cover his/her nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and to wash hands straight afterwards. (Sneeze into elbow if unable to wash hands).
- Hands should be washed after blowing noses and before eating.
- Use tissues once and then throw them in the bin. (Avoid using handkerchiefs.)
- Keep your child home from school if he/she has a cold/cough/fever/pain.
- Make sure that children eat a balanced diet of plenty of healthy foods.
- Keep children away from smoke – it irritates their eyes and nasal passages, making it more likely that they will catch a cold.
What to do if your child gets a cold
No treatment will cure a cold or make it go away more quickly, but you can help your child feel more comfortable:
- Rest: This need not be in bed.
- Provide extra drinks: If your child doesn’t want to drink very much, try giving lots of small sips of water, or ice blocks to suck for older children.
Germs are spread easily within the classroom to staff and other students. Keep your child home if they cannot ;
- Cover his/her nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing
- Wipe his/ her nose independently
- Wash hands without help
Washing hands is the easiest way to protect ourselves from contagious diseases, like colds, influenza and gastroenteritis. Hands should be washed before and after eating or preparing food, after going to the toilet and after nose blowing/sneezing.
When teaching your child to wash their hands:
- Use clean water and soap, making sure they cover their hands and wrists.
- Use a brush to clean under nails if they’re dirty too
- Dry their hands with something clean (like a paper towel)
Alcohol based sanitizers can be useful when soap and water is not available. Use half a teaspoon of the product and encourage your child to rub their hands together until they’re dry. If you can see dirt on their hands, it is better to use soap and water.