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5 infection prevention tips

Dr. Sarah Khan, infectious diseases specialist, Hamilton Health Sciences

Getting ready for school this year calls for some specific strategies to stay as safe as possible.

I want to share my top five infection prevention tips for families.

Number one – only go to school if you’re feeling well.

If your child has a fever, sore throat, cough, vomiting or diarrhea, don’t send them to school. Speak to your doctor first.

Number two – Wash your hands.

Having clean hands is important to prevent the spread of germs. It’s a good idea for children to wash their hands before eating or after playing with shared toys or equipment, and as soon as they come home from school.

Number three – Wear a mask.

Masking is another tool in our toolkit to prevent the spread of infection. Each school board may have differences about when masks are required. It’s a good idea to start practicing with your children now and modeling good mask behavior.

Number four – Watch your distance.

Maintaining distance from others outside of your home is another way to reduce your exposures. Two metres is the general recommendation in Canada, but we recognize that’s not always possible in a learning environment. Practicing things like keeping your arms apart like an airplane to learn physical distancing is something you can practice with your kids now.

And number five – Keep clean.

Keep school items away from food areas or areas you want to keep clean.

COVID is mainly spread by breathing in droplets from someone who has the virus, so it’s unlikely that it will travel home on inanimate objects from school. It’s generally still a good idea to keep the stuff that touches a lot of hands away from kitchen counters and the tables where you eat.

And of course, wash your hands after touching those kind of objects. While the virus can’t jump from an object to your nose and mouth, it can be transmitted from your hands.

This school year is unique and we all have to do our part to prevent the spread of infections so we can have a safe return to the classroom for all of our children.