For students, staying healthy key to successful school year
By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 28, 2010 1:46 PM
Getting enough rest, practicing healthy eating habits and plenty of serious hand washing with soap and warm water are simple things that could help students enjoy an illness-free school year.
"There are many things parents and students can do to remain healthy," said Pam Anderson, BSN, RN, NCSN, manager for school health services for Wayne County Public Schools.
However, the simplest and most effective is vigorous hand washing -- something that cannot be over emphasized, she said.
Young children are encourage to sing "Happy Birthday" twice while washing their hands to help ensure they are thoroughly cleaned. It is important that they wash their hands before they eat, after they go to the bathroom or just when their hands look dirty, she said.
Children also need to be reminded not to touch themselves around the eyes and nose, something easier said than done, she said.
"Teach them that if they need to sneeze to do so into their elbow and not their hands," Ms. Anderson said.
And the old saying about getting enough rest is true, she said.
"Many don't get enough sleep every night," she said. "The recommended number of hours of sleep depends on the age. The younger the child, the more sleep they require. What I have read says that children need from 8 to 12 hours of sleep each night."
It is also important that children stay hydrated.
"At the start of the school year it is still hot so they need to stay hydrated, but the way to do so is with water (not soda)," she said.
Stomachaches are the most common problems school nurses contend with, Ms. Anderson said. The most prevalent illness is asthma, she said. Then there are the old standbys like chicken pox, but thanks to vaccines that is no longer the problem it used to be, she said.
Early last school year, with the threat of the H1N1 virus, school health officials took the initiative to get information out to parents.
Fortunately, the outbreak was not as severe as anticipated and it was more like the regular flu that school nurses see each year, she said.
When children do become sick, it is up to parents to help ensure that the illness is not spread. They can help the schools protect students by keeping their sick children at home, Ms. Anderson said.
"If contagious, keep the child at home," she said. "If there are fever-like symptoms keep the child home until they have been fever free for 24 hours without the use of Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
"It is important to let the fever run its course before the child is allowed to return to school if it can prevent the sickness by spreading."
Other symptoms that should keep the child home are vomiting and diarrhea. More often than not, diarrhea is caused by a virus, she said. The child should stay home until they can keep food down.
August 25 is the start date for all schools for the upcoming 2010 - 2011 school year and children entering schools into grades K-12 for the upcoming school year should have the following shots:
* Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, 5 doses
* Polio, 4 doses
* Measles, 2 doses
* Mumps, 2 doses
* Rubella, 1 dose
* Haemophilus Influenzae type B (Hib), 4 doses
* Hepatitis B (Hep B,) 3 doses
* Varicella (chickenpox), 1 dose.
A booster dose of tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis vaccine is required for individuals attending public school who are entering the sixth grade on or after August 1, 2008, if five years or more have passed since the last dose of tetanus/diphtheria toxoid. A booster dose of tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis vaccine is required for individuals not attending public schools who are 12 years of age on or after August 1, 2008, if five years or more have passed since the last dose of tetanus/diphtheria toxoid.
North Carolina law requires Kindergarten Health Assessments and updated immunizations for all children starting kindergarten each year. The Health Assessment has to be done within 12 months before the first day of kindergarten. School principals are required to send kindergarten children home from school if they have not had their immunizations and/or physical examinations within 30 days after the first day of school.
If a kindergarten child has not had a physical examination since August 25, 2009, parents should call their child's doctor or the Health Department for an appointment.
If an appointment is needed, people need to call now for an appointment at the facility of their choice, Ms. Anderson said.