Children's Health

Beware of the germs at school

Knowledge isn’t the only thing kids are bringing home from school. School is also a thriving ground where bacteria and germs spread — and your child is vulnerable to all of this. School is one of the most ideal places for bacteria to spread because children come in close contact with one another and they tend to have unhygienic habits such as sticking their fingers in their mouths. And we all know kids don’t wash their hands as often as they should. The average American child has 6-10 colds a year. Colds are so common because of how easily the germs spread in public places like school. However, most of these illnesses can be avoided with care and a few safety measures.

  • Make sure immunizations are up to date. Bracing yourself for what might come is probably the best prevention method. Getting the recommended immunizations for the whole family, especially the flu vaccine, will help the body stay prepared for bacteria at any time and place.
  • Wash your hands! Teaching your child how and when to wash his or her hands is crucial in getting rid of the germs from touching (which is what kids love to do). Encourage your child to wash his or her hands at least before eating and drinking and after using the bathroom. The recommended time is around 20 seconds with warm water and soap.
  • Teach the basics of germ protocol. Let your child know to avoid other children who are showing signs of illness, such as coughing or sneezing. If your child is the one who is sick, teach him or her to cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing. These safety measures will help prevent the spread of infection from child to child.
  • “Sharing is caring” doesn’t apply when it comes to germs. Although we teach kids to share, there are some things that just shouldn’t be shared at school. Besides food and drinks, unexpected objects like lip balms, earphones, lotions and other items that come in contact with the body should not be shared. It seems harmless, but many types of skin infection can come from sharing personal items such as these.
  • Where are the top germ spots? Did you know that there are more bacteria on a water fountain spigot than on a toilet seat? Studies show that water fountain spigots, cafeteria trays and sink faucets have the greatest amount of bacteria of most places at school. Germs can come from unexpected places, so make sure your child knows to wash his or her hands frequently.
  • Clean out book bags. Most children have the tendency to stuff anything and everything into their backpacks, and it just gets worse further into the school year. Who knows what could be festering in there. So, have your child regularly clean out and empty his or her book bag and lunchbox. Remind children to bring home items that need to be washed, like dirty gym clothes.
Catch a case of the sniffles? Our Pediatric clinic at West Wheeler offers “Early bird” walk-in sick appointments for established patients from 7:30- 8:00 a.m. Monday through Friday. Visit for more information or call  706-312-5437.

About the author

Children's Hospital of Georgia

Children’s Hospital of Georgia is the only facility in the area dedicated exclusively to children. It staffs the largest team of pediatric specialists in the region who deliver out- and in- patient care for everything from common childhood illnesses to life-threatening conditions like heart disorders, cancer and neurological diseases.