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Help Kids Fend Off Germs at School

Kids going back to school in person this fall is both a relief and a source of worry for parents. With the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, you’re likely on the lookout for ways to prevent the spread of germs and keep yourself and your children healthy.

In addition to COVID-19, colds and other infections will likely be circulating with kids back in school. Fortunately, there are measures you and your children can take to keep germs at bay.

Mask up.

While masks are required in schools across Washington state, it’s important to ensure your child’s mask fits well and that they wear a clean one each day.

Other helpful mask tips:

  • Label your child’s mask.
  • Pack a spare mask in a resealable bag.
  • Your child should never swap masks with other kids.
  • Practice how to properly take masks on and off.
  • Clean hands before and after taking off the mask.
  • Children younger than 2 should not wear a mask.

Practice good hand hygiene.

Clean hands are one of the best ways to prevent getting sick and avoid spreading germs. Practice these steps with your child at home and remind them to do it at school every time after they cough, sneeze or blow their nose, before eating, and after using the bathroom:

  • Wet your hands with water.
  • Apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds—the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  • Rinse your hands.
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry them.

Send older children to school with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Encourage them to use it when they can’t get to a sink.

Children ages 5 and younger should only use hand sanitizer when supervised by an adult. Otherwise, it’s safest to keep it out of reach. Drinking even a small amount of sanitizer can cause poisoning in children.

Disinfect high-touch items.

When your child comes home, use disinfecting wipes on items that are touched a lot, such as toys and electronics. School bags and reusable lunch bags should be wiped down.

Stay home when sick.

To minimize the spread of illness at school and in the community, keep kids home when they are sick, have a fever or if they have any other symptoms of illness.

Get vaccinated.

If your child is 12 or over, they can get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. You should, too, if you haven’t already. Make sure your child is up to date with all recommended immunizations. And, getting a flu vaccine is especially important since the flu and COVID-19 cause similar symptoms.

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