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October

2023

Back to School Germs

By Amber Ford

Back to School Germs

With school back in full swing and those days of at-home school for many public school students a Covid memory, many students, parents and teachers are now faced with the germs and illnesses that come along with every school year. While the flu, common cold and other typical illnesses don’t play favorites to any particular time of year, they seem most heavily circulated during fall and winter seasons. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in the United States flu cases are historically known to increase in October and peak between December and February.

Oregon Trail District school nurse, Brie Leiblein, explains that while back to school time seems to be known for the spreading of germs and other illnesses, students, faculty and staff are dealing with the same sicknesses that also spread throughout the community. Battling the common cold and flu can be challenging in any group setting, but Leiblein explains there are more specific hurdles school districts and classrooms face during peak flu season. “The biggest challenge has always been kids coming to school when they are ill instead of staying at home,” Leiblein said. “Not only is rest very important when you're ill, it also reduces the risk of spreading the illness to others in the school,” Leiblein added.

While the common cold and flu are the most common sicknesses that spread during the school year, according to the CDC, there are several others that parents should be aware of. Strep throat, hand, foot and mouth disease, pink eye, head lice, chicken pox, meningitis and mononucleosis are also quite common. These illnesses, although painful and highly contagious, are preventable. Leiblein explains several very important precautions both parents and students can take to not only keep themselves healthy, but to help keep the classroom safe as well. “Keeping students home when they are ill and encouraging hand and respiratory hygiene (wash hands, cover coughs, etc.) go a long way,” Leiblein said. “Also consider the benefits of getting the flu and COVID shots,” Leiblein added.

There is no doubt that a post pandemic world has created more awareness as to how to stay healthy during flu season and school districts, such as The Oregon Trail District, are also preparing by adhering to CDC and Oregon Health Department guidelines. “Outside of following all COVID protocols set by the CDC and Oregon Health Authority, the rest of our exclusion policy has remained the same,” Leiblein said. “I think the biggest impact has been that now people are more mindful about preventing the spread of illness, like staying home when they are ill, and washing or sanitizing hands frequently; we even see some students and staff wearing masks when they are recovering from something besides COVID to help reduce the spread,” Leiblein added.

According to Leiblein it is too early to say which illnesses could be troublesome during this school year, but following guidelines set forth by the school district, state and CDC are all helpful ways to defend your health during flu season.

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