PUBLISHED: 12:23 PM on Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Good hygiene combats sick students at school

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A cough or a sneeze may seem harmless enough, but those germs have a way to quickly spreading.

This is especially the case at school.

Being in an enclosed atmosphere with many children causes the cold season to start as school as school is in session, said school nurses Janet Capito and Phyllis Watts.

"The biggest thing for kids and adults a like is that they cough or sneeze into their hands and then touch things before washing," said Capito of Gastineau Elementary School.

"The main defense to getting sick is frequent hand washing. You need to wash for 20-25 seconds and most people don't do that."

Capito said she sends newsletters home about health issues to inform parents how to keep children healthy and what symptoms to look for when a certain bug is appearing.

Flu shots are recommended to keep children and adults healthy, Capito said.

"I think everyone should get a flu shot. It may not always prevent you from getting sick, but you will get a much milder case and it's a lot less life threatening," Capito said.

Caring for grades sixth through eighth at Floyd Dryden Middle School, Watts said students remember to wash their hands better, but cleaning surfaces on a regular basis is recommended.

"I tell teachers to wipe down certain things in the classroom, especially computers where kids share them," Watts said.

Watts said that while the common cold was prominent when school began in August, the stomach flu is now effecting students.

"I've sent some kids home and some have stayed at home. They sleep for a day and then are back to school the next day. They might always be in top shape, but they're feeling better," Watts said.

She recommends students stay hydrated to prevent from getting ill.

"Students should carry a bottle of water," Watts said. "I also tell them not to share foods and drinks. The better nutrition they get, the better."