Tips During Cold and Flu Season

It’s that time of year again…colds, flu and stomach viruses.  The nursing staff reminds you to cover your cough, wash your hands and most importantly, stay home if you’re sick.

The common cold is a virus easily passed from one person to another through coughing, sneezing and touching eyes, nose and mouth.  There may be a low grade temperature.  The symptoms usually include stuffy or runny nose, sore throat and a cough.  A cold generally lasts 3-7 days.  Stay home if the symptoms make concentration difficult or the child is just miserable.

The flu is actually a respiratory illness not a stomach bug.  Fever greater than 102 is common and the illness can last 3-4 days.  Sore throat and cough are common as are aches, pain and fatigue.  Please remember to keep your child out of school for 24 hours after their fever is gone without the use of Tylenol or ibuprofen.  This helps assure they are no longer contagious to others.  An annual flu shot can give you good protection.

The stomach ‘flu’ is always present in schools.  This is not really the flu but is a virus easily passed from one person to another.   Sometimes there is a low grade temperature but usually the symptoms are stomach ache, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea.

The district works closely with the Polk County Health Department, other Polk County school districts and the Iowa Department of Public Health to monitor flu conditions and make decisions about the best steps to take concerning schools. Here are a few things parents can do to help:

  • Know the signs and symptoms of the flu. Symptoms of the flu include fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit, 37.8 degrees Celsius or greater), cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache and feeling very tired. Some people may also vomit or have diarrhea.
  • Do not send children to school if they are sick. Any children who are determined to be sick while at school will be sent home. Have a plan in place if you need to stay home with a sick child.
  • Keep sick children at home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have fever or do not have signs of fever, without using fever-reducing drugs. Keeping children with a fever at home will reduce the number of people who may get infected.
  • Teach your children to wash their hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. You can set a good example by doing this yourself.
  • Teach your children not to share personal items like drinks, food or unwashed utensils.
  • Teach your child to cover their coughs and sneezes with tissues. If tissue is unavailable they can cover up their coughs or sneezes using their elbow, arm or sleeve instead of their hand.