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Tips to Help Keep Children Healthy During the Back-to-School Season from Dr. Darria Long

Tips to Help Keep Children Healthy During the Back-to-School Season from Dr. Darria Long

June 16, 2021

This back-to-school season, it’s important for parents to understand how to keep their children healthy and safe. Dr. Darria Long, ER Physician and Clorox spokesperson, shares tips for helping to prevent the spread of germs during this busy time of the year.

Teach and Practice Healthy Habits

Share standard healthy habits with your children and practice them together at home so they’ll be ready to take on the school year with confidence.

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (consider singing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing). This should especially be done prior to mealtime, after school/daycare and after playing outside.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, to help prevent the spread of germs to hands and surfaces. Teach children to cough or sneeze into their elbow.
  • Now’s the perfect time to schedule your child’s annual check-up and pre-school physicals, and make sure they are up to date on vaccinations
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are sick, and if you or a family member is feeling under the weather, stay home and minimize contact with others.
  • As you purchase back-to-school supplies, also stock up on your first aid kit.

Help Keep Germs at Bay

To help prevent catching a cold or flu this back-to-school season, keep these tips in mind upon returning home from school or daycare.

  • Establish a “drop zone” where you can leave school items. This includes a designated place to leave shoes, backpacks, dirty masks and other school equipment so that germs don’t get tracked through the house.
  • Set up a “mask station” right by the back door, with a bin for clean masks and extra mask lanyards, and a bin for discarding used masks.
  • Teach children to immediately wash their hands (all the way to their elbows) when returning from school, and encourage them to change into play clothes.
  • Regularly disinfect common areas and high-touch surfaces in your home, such as doorknobs, countertops, remote controls or light switches. I recommend disinfecting high-touch surfaces with an EPA-approved disinfectant, such as Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes, to help prevent the spread of germs.
  • Consider storing a pack of hand wipes or hand sanitizer in your child’s backpack so they have easy access during the school day.

Eat Well and Be Active

Since good habits in childhood lead to good habits as adults, now’s a great time for kiddos to embrace healthy choices. Also, since many children eat almost half of their calories at school1, having healthy food at home is crucial.

  • Plan a healthy family meal every evening to encourage proper nutrition and share fun experiences about your day. Studies have shown that having meals with the family is associated with better relationships and even better school performance.
  • Prep veggies on Sunday and plan meals on the weekend, so you have the ingredients you need to create dinner on busy weeknights.
  • Help your child stay active outside of school by going on a family walk, playing catch in the backyard, or riding your bikes around the neighborhood.
  • Encourage your child to stay hydrated, and replace their sugary drinks with water.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

More than half of middle school and high school students don’t get enough sleep, which can negatively affect their weight, mental health and concentration in school.

  • Remove electronic devices from the bedroom to improve quality of sleep. Create a bedtime routine to help program your brain for a regular sleep schedule.
  • Avoid large meals and caffeine before bedtime. Both of these will throw off our Circadian Rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep, and also impacting metabolism and other body cycles.
  • Set bed and wake-up times at the same time each day, including weekends. While it may feel inconvenient, the more you do this, the easier mornings will be.

1. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/nutrition/schoolnutrition.htm