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The Secrets To Avoiding ‘The Back To School Plague’

Touch-free dispensers are helping keep America's kids healthier in school.

If you listen closely, you can hear a school bell already ringing. You can already make out the joyful noise coming from the playground at recess and smell the goulash in the cafeteria.

It’s Back To School Season in America.

This month, most of America’s 56.6 million elementary school students will return to the classroom.  Alas, they will be followed by billions of sickly germs, bacteria and viruses also making an unwelcome return to school. Despite the best efforts of educators and teachers, it’s all but impossible to completely expel harmful germs from America’s schools.

After all, schools are what germs, if they could talk, would warmly refer to as Disneyland. Schools are germs’ idea of Heaven. John Hopkins Medicine estimates that on average, elementary school children get six to eight colds each school year. Teachers and students, as CNN Health’s Jen Christensen notes, commonly refer to this cold and flu phenomenon as the “back-to-school plague.” Noted health expert Harley Rotbart not so fondly refers to America’s schools as “germ candy stores.”

The water fountain again enters this school year with the unfortunate title of the germiest place in school.

Fear not fearful parents, here are 10 tips on how to beat the back to school germ blues:

  1. Get A Flu Shot: Nothing protects kids better from the flu.
  2. Stay Home When You’re Really Sick: It’s simple math – one sick kid at school quickly multiples to 2, 3, 4 and 5 sick kids at school.
  3. Wash Your Hands Regularly: You can’t say this enough. Also, teach your kids to reach for hand sanitizer, which can reduce absenteeism due to infection by up to 20 percent.
  4. Be Hands Off When Coughing & Sneezing: Your sleeve is your best handkerchief when you don’t have a Kleenex at the ready.
  5. Keep Fingers Away From Your Eyes, Nose and Mouth: Hands spread infection like wildfire.
  6. Wipe Everything Down With Cleansing Wipes: Cleaning frequently shared surfaces, such as computers, door handles and tables, can prevent the spread of germs.
  7. Beware of Bookbag-teria: To prevent hitchhiking germs from spreading to surfaces where you prepare and eat food, make tables and countertops a no-go zone for backpacks.
  8. Get Moving To Keep Your Immune System Moving & Its Defenses Up: Physical activity revs up your body’s response to illness. As your gym teacher always said, a body in motion stays in motion.
  9. Turn Off Your Phone & Go To Bed: Kids who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick when exposed to a virus. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends elementary school-age children get 10 hours of sleep per night.
  10. Don’t Be A Complete Germophobe: Sterilizing your home environment can do more harm than good by leading to anti-microbial bacteria.

Germs can be the school bully who steals your lunch money, but teachers, parents and kids can outsmart the sickly germs, bacteria and viruses out to spoil their school day and year by knowing how to avoid them.

“Steering clear of the things that can spread germs is the best way to protect yourself,” Dr. Ryan Brogan of Kids writes.