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    Nurse's Corner

    1. Fifth Graders Prepare for Middle School
    2. Tips for Staying Healthy During Flu and Cold Season
    3. Lice Awareness
    4. When to Keep Your Ill Child Home
    5. Does your child get enough sleep?

    Fifth Graders Prepare for Middle School!

    Attention 5th grade families: It’s spring and 5th graders are getting ready for middle school! All 5th graders must be vaccinated with TDAP before entering 6th grade. If your child would like to play organized sports in middle school, he/she must have a sports physical exam, valid for 2 years. Make an appointment at your clinic health care provider now for your Tdap vaccine and sports physical.

    Tips for Staying Healthy During Flu and Cold Season

    Seattle Public Schools is taking a proactive approach to fighting colds and flu in our schools by sharing information to help you stay healthy.

    The flu is transmitted by close personal contact. You can take the following steps to stay healthy during this flu season. Please use these tips to cut down your child’s risk of getting sick and catching the flu:

    • Encourage regular hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available and your hands are not visibly soiled.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands.
    • Stay home when you are sick. Do not return to work or school until you are free of fever, vomiting and diarrhea for 24 hours without the aid of medication.
    • Drink plenty of water and get plenty of rest.
    • Get your flu shot. Even if the season’s flu shot is not directed at the current strain of the flu, receiving a shot can help shorten and reduce flu symptoms.

    The flu has many symptoms, some of which may not be present. Here are the common symptoms:

    • fever*
    • cough
    • sore throat
    • runny or stuffy nose
    • body aches
    • headaches
    • chills
    • fatigue
    • sometimes diarrhea or vomiting

    *It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

    If your child comes down with the flu, watch carefully for signs of complications. Seek medical attention if your child has difficulty breathing, appears limp or extremely weak, is confused or does not respond, has a fever over 104 or a fever that lasts more than 48 hours, or a very dry mouth with no urine output for 8 hours. Call your child’s health care provider if you have any questions. Remember, children must be fever free for 24 hours before returning to school.

    If you have questions about whether or not your child should attend school due to illness, please contact your child’s school. Also, your school’s nurse is a valuable resource to discuss how to avoid the flu, recognizing symptoms, and how to speed recovery.

    You can learn more about how to prevent the spread of the flu by visiting the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm

    Lice Awareness

    School Nurse Jenny Osborne would like all students to be checked weekly at home for head lice. A good time to do this is on Saturday mornings to give families time to treat the lice and do the necessary cleaning before returning to school on Monday.

    See Guidelines for Controlling Head Lice put out by the Spokane Regional Health District, or Lice Aren’t Nice! published by Washington Dept of Health.

    When checking a head, chances are you will not see the lice because they are very fast moving. You will, however, see the nits and that is what you should be looking for to determine if you have an infestation. While it is most common for eggs to be laid 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the scalp, in warmer weather eggs are commonly laid anywhere on the hair shaft.

    Anytime there is a large group of people coming together on a regular basis, there is bound to be a few cases. If every family checks every week at home, we can all contribute to fewer lice at school. Thanks!

    When to Keep Your Ill Child Home

    It is not always easy to decide when to keep a student home due to illness. We coordinate with the local health district in protecting children from certain symptoms of communicable diseases.

    If your child has any of these symptoms, please keep him/her home, or make appropriate child care arrangements.

    • APPEARANCE, BEHAVIOR – unusually tired, pale, lack of appetite, difficult to wake, confused or irritable. This is sufficient reason to exclude a child from school.
    • EYES – thick mucus or pus draining from the eye or pink eye (conjunctivitis)
    • FEVER – temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
    • GREENISH NOSE DISCHARGE, AND/OR CHRONIC COUGH – should be seen by a health care provider. These conditions may be contagious and require treatment.
    • SORE THROAT – especially with fever of swollen glands in the neck.
    • DIARRHEA – 3 or more watery stools in a 24 hour period especially if the child acts or looks ill.
    • VOMITING – vomiting 2 or more times within the past 24 hours.
    • RASH – body rash, especially with fever or itching. Diaper rashers, heat rashes and allergic reactions are not contagious.
    • EAR INFECTIONS WITHOUT FEVER – do not need to be excluded, but the child needs to get medical treatment and follow-up. Untreated ear infections can cause permanent hearing loss.
    • LICE, SCABIES – children may not return to school until they have been properly treated.
    • CHICKENPOX – stay home until all lesions have crusted over and there are no new lesions in 24 hours. Do not give aspirin to a child with influenza or chickenpox as it can lead to Reye Syndrome, a serious complication.

    If your child shows any of the above symptoms at school, it will be necessary to pick him/her up from school.

    • Bringing a child to school with any of the above symptoms puts other children and staff at risk of getting sick.
    • If all parents keep their sick children at home, we will have stronger, healthier, and happier children.
    • While we regret any inconvenience this may cause, in the long run this means fewer lost work days and less illness for parents too.

    Thorough, frequent hand-washing including clean, trimmed nails, and remembering to not touch mouth, eyes or nose, are the best ways to help prevent the spread of many infectious conditions.

    Does your child get enough sleep? Success in school depends on it!

    School aged children (ages 5-12) need 10-11 hours of sleep each night. Without enough sleep, children will not only be tired, they will also have these problems:

    • Headaches and stomachaches = time out of the classroom to see the school nurse
    • Poor balance and agility = more playground injuries
    • More illnesses = more absences

    There are many behavioral problems seen when students are sleep deprived:

    • More impulsive and uncooperative= referrals to the office for behavior problems
    • Feeling depressed, angry and/or overly emotional= problems with classmates and friends

    Here are some tips for helping your child get a good nights’ rest:

    • Set a schedule that allows your child to get enough sleep- keep in mind that it typically takes 15 minutes in bed to fall asleep
    • Move bedtime 15 minutes earlier until they are getting 10-11 hours of sleep each night
    • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, including weekends. It’s ok to sleep in 15-30 minutes on weekends, but try to keep as close to their routine as much as possible
    • Develop and maintain a sleep hygiene/routine. Example: bath, brush teeth, tuck in bed and read 1 short story/book
    • Spend 30 minutes winding down before bed with quiet activities. That means: No TV, computer, phone, iPad, or video games during this time
    • Create a quiet, cool bedroom (ideally less than 65 degrees)
    • Do not drink caffeine after 12:00 PM- stays active in the body for up to 8 hours
    • No TV or computer in the child’s bedroom. If you do have a computer or TV, put a cover over it (such as a sheet, cover, or towel)

    If these ideas do not work, discuss this with your child’s health care provider. Your child may have a sleep disorder and may benefit from a sleep evaluation.

    In addition, you should have your child evaluated by their health care provider if he/she displays these symptoms while sleeping:

    • Snoring or extremely loud breathing
    • Mouth breathing throughout the night and day
    • Pauses in breathing
    • Restlessness on a nightly basis
    • Sweatiness on a nightly basis
    • Having trouble waking up in the morning
    • Fatigue or Irritability throughout the day

    These symptoms may indicate a possible sleep disorder such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and warrants a thorough evaluation by a specialist.

    (Information taken from presentations by Dr. Catherine Darley with the Institute of Naturopathic Sleep Medicine and Amber McAfee, ARNP from Seattle Children’s Hospital Sleep Clinic January 2012.)

    Lisa Oehl, School Nurse: 206-252-2957