« Back To All Posts

From Zoom to the Classroom: Helping Kids Avoid Back-to-School Germs


2021 has proven to be a year of transition. From lockdown to vaccination, one of the biggest changes is to come: the shift from distanced to in-person learning. Kids’ immune systems are less developed than adults’, so before the school year begins, it’s important to teach school-aged children how to avoid those back-to-school germs and stay germ-free!

Wash Your Hands!

Washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs. When washing your hands, rub soap and water on your hands for at least 20 seconds, or the duration of the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Make sure to scrub between your fingers, under your nails, and on your wrists!

You should always wash your hands after using the restroom, touching an animal, touching garbage, before and after eating, and whenever you’re around someone who’s sick.

You can use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water aren’t available, but doing so is less effective than hand washing. Hand sanitizers don’t get rid of all types of germs, and they aren’t as effective when your hands are visibly dirty or greasy! To use hand sanitizer properly, rub it all over your hands until they’re dry, for about 30 seconds.

If you’re a teacher or a parent, think about how you can make hand-washing a fun part of your daily routine. Incentivize it with songs, unexpected reminders, or reward systems. 

Tweak Some Behaviors

As with all transitions, going back to school after more than a year of distance learning requires some changes. Stay extra-conscious of the germs you may be spreading.

  • Sneeze like a vampire. Cover your sneezes, either with a tissue or by sneezing into your elbow – and be sure to wash your hands after!
  • Keep it to yourself. Sharing is caring, but unfortunately also spreads germs. Use individual school supplies as much as you are able, and for older kids, don’t share lipstick or lip balm, make-up, creams and lotions, or clothing, especially sweaty garments after gym class.
  • Hands off. It’s time to kick that nail-biting habit, and make sure to keep your hands away from your face! 
  • Practice “germ etiquette.” Stay distanced from those who are sick, as well as school water fountains and cafeteria trays. Studies show that these are the germiest spots in most school buildings.
  • Use your own supplies. If you’re able, bring your own pencils, pens, crayons, scissors, and other supplies to school. If you’re using a wooden pencil, avoid another hub for germs – the classroom pencil sharpener – and opt for a personal pencil sharpener.
  • Mask up! Public health experts still recommend masking in indoor spaces for everyone over the age of 2.

Disinfect Your School Gear

Keep a regular cleaning schedule for the items you or your kids regularly bring to school, including backpacks and lunchboxes. After removing all of the items they store, use a sanitary wipe or a wet cloth on the inside and outside. Make sure your kids clean out their gym bags and lockers regularly as well.

Health Outside of School

Taking care of yourself makes your body a more effective germ-fighter. With the right nutrition and fuel, you can stave off infections and other illnesses and have a lower chance of contracting them in the first place.

  • Make sure to get enough sleep and limit the use of devices, which can disrupt our body’s natural sleep cycle, before bed.
  • Eat nutritious foods and less sugar – fruits and vegetables boost the immune system.
  • Prepare for sick days by storing the phone number for the school nurse and administrators and keeping a look out for symptoms of illness, especially COVID-19.
  • Stay active and up-to-date on your immunizations. All school kids should get a flu shot, but all adults and children over the age of 12 who are currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine should be fully vaccinated by the beginning of the year as well. “Fully vaccinated” means 2 weeks after their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or 2 weeks after single-dose like J&J. Note that Pfizer is currently the only vaccine authorized for kids 12-17!

For more information on COVID-19 vaccinations offered at Riverside Medical Clinic, click here.

For information on our pediatric vaccinations, click here!

From all of us at Riverside, we wish you a healthy and safe start to the school year!