As the weather begins to turn cold, it signals the start of chilly temperatures, holiday celebrations, winter fun and most importantly – cold and flu season!
For child care providers, colder weather means it’s time for them to prepare for plenty of germs that can spread among children and staff quickly.
While eliminating the spread of germs entirely is nearly impossible, child care centers can minimize the impact of illness in the classroom. Take a look at these handy cold and flu season tips to prevent the spread of germs in your child care facility this year:
Create Helpful Resources for Parents
Provide parents with cold and flu season tips to prevent illness in the first place, or at least prevent sick children from bringing germs into your preschool. Design a booklet or email newsletter with practical resources about how they can prevent cold and flu at home.
Show children how to properly cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue. The tissue should be thrown in the garbage afterward and hands should be washed thoroughly.
Frequent Hand Washing
Reinforce proper hand washing techniques and encourage frequent hand washing. Choose a hand washing song to help preschoolers wash up for at least 20 seconds or more. Caregivers should demonstrate how to properly wash your hands, lathering up your palms, between fingers and the back of your hands using soap and warm water.
Disinfect Toys Often
Disinfect surfaces and toys more often during cold and flu season to avoid the spread of germs. Choose safe and healthy products to kill germs, cleaning frequently used toys, doorknobs, countertops, desks and bathrooms on a daily basis.
Children and Staff Should Stay Home if Sick!
Keep an eye out for the first signs of the flu. If a child has symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headaches, body aches, sore throat or vomiting, ensure you contact their parent or guardian immediately.
Create Strong Sick Policies
Enforce your sick day policies with children who do become ill. Insist that parents adhere to your policy as outlined in your handbook, keeping their child home for the required number of days. You may wish to send a letter or email to parents to remind them of the policy details at the beginning of the season.
If you need help creating your handbook, see our post on How to Create a Parent Handbook for Daycares.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself too! Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and make sure you wash your hands often as well. Keep your hands away from your face, especially your nose, mouth and eyes to avoid catching the flu.
For more tips on maintaining a safe and healthy child care center, we recommend the following articles from the HiMama Blog:
- Childcare Cleaning Tips for a Healthier Center
- Health, Safety, and Nutrition in Early Childhood Education
- 10 Tips for Planning a Healthy Child Care Center Menu
- Teaching a Classroom Clean Up Routine