Back-To-School Tips For Keeping The "Plague" Away

Any teacher or parent will tell you – back to school means back to sniffles, colds, sore throats and even the flu. 

Some refer to this as the “back-to-school plague.” It can not only affect the children and teachers who are in the school, but their family members can get sick too, when germs travel into the home on little ones’ hands.

Avoiding germs altogether isn’t possible, and if it was, it would leave your child without a robust immune system as an adult, so that’s not a solution.

What’s a parent to do?

First, give your child’s body a boost in germ-fighting power. Every day incorporate healthy habits into your family, such as getting enough sleep, getting exercise or active play, and eating a nutritious diet.

Then teach your children good handwashing skills, and remind them not to touch their faces. Watch any group of first graders and you’ll see them touching surfaces, touching other kids and then touching their own faces. Germs most commonly enter the body through the mouth, eyes or nose. 

Other strategies for a healthy school year are:

  • Send a water bottle to school (avoid the drinking fountain)
  • Pack hand sanitizer* wipes for use before eating (cafeteria trays are not always well-cleaned)
  • Make sure your child is dressed for the weather. Grandma was right: studies are showing that you’re less likely to develop a cold if you’re dressed warmly.
  • And if your child is sick, keep him or her at home. Do your part to help prevent spreading those germs to other children.
*Update (9/17/2015)Recently liquid hand sanitizer use by children has been in the news. Most liquid hand sanitizers are 60-95 percent ethanol, a form of alcohol This is what kills the germs, but if a child swallows hand sanitizer, it acts as a poison in the body, much like drinking shots of alcohol. In the case of children, just a few squirts can be deadly. Warn your children not to eat or drink hand sanitizer, and instead of sending liquid sanitizer to school with your little one, send sanitizing hand wipes instead.

How GMC Can Help

It's important to schedule an annual physical exam to establish a relationship with a primary care physician before your child is sick. If you're in the market for a new physician for yourself or your child, visit to find the perfect physician for your location and preferences. 


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