During the winter, when people spend more time inside in close quarters, viruses spread quickly. In childcare centers, the flu and viruses tend to move quickly through classrooms, meaning it’s time to evaluate your practices and policies to help keep everyone safe and healthy.
Fighting off viruses is especially important this year as health officials are warning about the risks of a tripledemic for young children. That’s because RSV, the flu, and COVID-19 cases are all high.
All these upper respiratory viruses are concerning, especially for young children. The biggest risk for your infant room is RSV.
You likely can’t eliminate all illnesses among students at your center, but you can help minimize the spread of illness through several crucial steps.
5 Steps to Prevent the Spread of Viruses at Your Childcare
Implement these policies and cleaning procedures to protect your students and staff during this prevalent illness season.
- Wash Hands Frequently
All staff should frequently wash their hands throughout the day. And while this might seem obvious to wash hands after interacting with children and before eating, reminding your teachers of this can help ensure everyone stays healthy.
When washing your hands, you should follow this routine:
- Wet your hands and apply the soap.
- Rub your hands together and ensure you scrub all surfaces, including between your fingers.
- Scrub for no less than 20 seconds to ensure you remove all germs.
- Run your hands back under the water to thoroughly rinse them off.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel.
You should be teaching children to wash their hands like this as well. All children should wash their hands before eating and after using the restroom. But also encourage handwashing after children play outside or if they’ve coughed or sneezed into their hands.
Try to keep handwashing a fun activity through singing or telling stories to encourage proper handwashing between fingers and such.
- Disinfect Shared Surfaces
Cleaning toys will help ensure children don’t share germs. Try to clean them between children. So when playtime is over, set aside the toy in another bin that is marked for disinfection.
But you also need to clean high-touch shared surfaces regularly. This includes doorknobs, tabletops, and restrooms. Wipe down diaper changing stations after every child.
And at the end of each day, thoroughly disinfect the entire classroom. This includes scrubbing the floors and countertops. This will help kill any viruses so that they don’t spread from child to child.
When disinfecting your classrooms, just be sure you’re using child-safe disinfectants.
- Educate Children on Proper Hygiene
Young children have to learn everything, including how to avoid spreading germs. Teach them how to sneeze into their elbow or a tissue to avoid getting germs on their hands and spreading those germs to others.
Explain why you’re washing hands and ensure children understand that washing hands before eating is routine. That way, they’ll line up and get ready for handwashing before meals and snacks and will be more likely to complete the activity at home as well.
- Review Your Sick Policy and Remind Parents
Ensuring sick children stay home is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of illnesses at your center. You should have a clear policy for parents not bringing their sick children to your childcare.
It’s a smart idea to send out your sick policy to all parents with enrolled children as a reminder of when they can bring their child to your center. Your policy should outline specifically when it is safe to bring a child to your center and when they should keep their child home. But parents likely haven’t read your handbook since enrolling at your center.
Post your sick child policy on your website as well for easy reference in case parents question whether they can bring their child to your center in a month or two when illness strikes.
- Educate Parents on Illness Prevention
While each student’s doctor is likely having crucial conversations with parents about how to prevent serious illness, there’s a lot for parents to take in during those appointments. Help the parents out by reminding parents of what they can do to prevent illness.
Put together an email all about how to prevent viruses this time of year and explain what you’re doing at your center to prevent an outbreak. This will help parents reinforce these habits at home.
Sharing details about why parents might consider a flu shot for their children can also be helpful. Put together some information from the CDC or your local state’s department of health to add credence to what you send out.
Your goal is to work together with parents to avoid the flu and teach children healthy habits they’ll maintain for a lifetime. As a team, you can help children understand the importance of good hygiene and preventing the spread of germs and illnesses.
- Implement Childcare Software that Helps You Manage Your Sick Policy
During the COVID-19 pandemic, most states required temperature and symptom tracking during childcare check-in. You can carry those protocols forward to prevent the spread of a variety of illnesses in your center.
iCare Software offers pandemic protocol management to help you complete temperature checks, track a child’s symptoms and complete the check-in process quickly. Administrators get alerts if a child’s temperature or symptoms show signs of an illness to send the child home before they potentially spread that illness throughout the center.
Schedule a 15-minute consultation now to learn more about iCare Software and how the technology could help you prevent illnesses in your classroom.