Childcare centers, educators, and parents all play crucial roles in stopping the spread of flu, which is particularly hard-hitting this year. For the first time in its history of monitoring flu outbreaks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (The CDC) declared that every section of the continental U.S. has “widespread flu activity.”
Even in a less severe flu season, “thousands of children younger than 5 years are hospitalized from flu complications every year,” CDC states. Here at Sparkles! Early Learning Academy, we take the spread of respiratory illnesses seriously. Each day, we teach the children to practice good hygiene, and follow policies that reduce the spread of germs. Learn what we are doing to keep children healthier, and see tips for staying healthy at home, too.
Hand-washing with soap and water—made fun
- “We make hand-washing fun,” says Miss Christine, Sparkles! Crystal City Director. “It is the best prevention. They squish their soapy hands together and we sing the ABC song. They enjoy it!” At home, ask children to sing the ABCs or a favorite family song to reinforce this as a positive habit, and to keep them washing long enough to remove germs.
- Sinks in every classroom. This ensures hand washing is frequent and available, so that germs are not spread from class to class.
- Before and after each activity. On arrival, students wash their hands, and again before and after each new activity. For example, before and after snack, before and after art time, when returning from being outside, etc. Hand-washing is a frequent, regular and fun part of each day.
- Before and after personal care. Children are taught, and follow the example of staff and educators, to wash their hands after using a tissue or the restroom.
Frequent, Robust Sanitizing
Anywhere someone’s hand can touch is sanitized. Sparkles! uses a two-step approach to sanitize surfaces and toys, explains Miss Christine. You can replicate this at home for nonporous toys and other items that could introduce germs to your little one.
- Soapy solution spray and then wipe down
- Spray with bleach solution and towel or air dry
Keep Flu Out of School
If you notice flu symptoms in your child, please keep them home to recuperate. This gives children the rest they need to recover quickly, and prevents the spread of illness. A child will sometimes become symptomatic while at school; Miss Danielle, Assistant Director at Sparkles! Fair Oaks, explains the procedure when this happens:
- Contact parents immediately; pick-up is expected within 1 hour
- Children must be free of illness, such as fever-free without medicine, for 24 hours before returning.
The Elbow Rule
At Sparkles!, children are taught, and model staff, to cough and sneeze into their elbows. This prevents the spread of respiratory illness by coughing or sneezing on someone, and also ensures it is not spread by hands touching surfaces after being sneezed or coughed upon.
Last but not least, if your child does exhibit symptoms of the flu, call their doctor for medical guidance. Given the voracity of this year’s strain, it is best to err on the side of caution. Working together, parents, educators, and childcare centers can help reduce the spread of the flu, while teaching children lifelong healthy habits.