It’s the time of year when teachers prepare, kids grumble, and parents rejoice. The start of the new school year is upon us! Whether your kids dread or welcome a new school year, there are plenty of things you’re probably already doing to help them prepare. As your kids come in contact with other kids and new environments, there are some best practices for how to prevent the spread of disease so they can attend as many school days as possible.

Clean hands. One of the most common ways kids catch diseases is by touching their face and spreading bacteria from their hands to their eyes, nose, or mouth. Teaching your child how and when to wash his or her hands can help to prevent that. Proper hand washing technique: With soap and warm water, scrub the entire hand including the back, between the fingers, and around the nails for at least 20 seconds. If you send your child to school with hand sanitizer, make sure it’s at least 60% alcohol.

Cover that cough. Instruct kids how to cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of their elbow instead of their hands. Following a cough or sneeze, encourage kids to wash their hands to avoid spreading their illness to others.

Sharing isn’t always caring. Teaching kids to share is usually a good thing, but not when it comes to lip balm, pencils, ear buds, lotion, and other things that could easily carry germs. With young kids it’s difficult to express when it’s good to share and when it’s not. Try to encourage kids to wash their hands after free play or after they’ve been handling shared toys.

Colds and flus travel through schools at the speed light or, rather, the speed of a sneeze (100+ miles per hour!). But these are some simple things you can remind your kid to do to help him or her stay healthy.

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