Staying Healthy This Winter

Staying Healthy This Winter
Posted on 02/20/2018
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NPS does everything possible to ensure the health and safety of our students, including taking precautions to sanitize schools according to state mandates, and supporting school staff who work daily to ensure that students are healthy and ready to learn. Still, we know from the national news that this flu season has been a challenging one. Although there have been reports of students and staff with flu in our schools, we are fortunate that it has not been widespread in Norwalk.


With some time still to go in this winter’s cold and flu season, here are some answers to frequently asked questions, as well as helpful tips for staying healthy.


NPS Cleaning Guidelines

Throughout the district, state-approved green cleaning and disinfecting products are being used. Connecticut regulation prohibits the use of bleach in schools in any format. For additional information, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has put together a YouTube video to about the hazards of common cleaning products while showing the benefit and effectiveness of using green cleaners.


At the onset of the winter season the NPS Facilities Department added a more aggressive disinfectant to its school cleaning supplies that kills over 37 pathogens, including influenza. School custodians will continue using this product over the coming weeks, with particular attention on “high touch” areas. The district is also working with our school bus company, First Student, to make sure buses are disinfected every week. For additional details on the green cleaning guidelines, click here and follow the link to the “Green Cleaning Program” document.


NPS Illness Guidelines

To help minimize the spread of germs and illness, please keep your child home if they are not feeling well. A child may return to school 24 hours after the last episode of vomiting and/or diarrhea and once the child is fever free without the use of fever reducing medications for 24 hours. 

We request that, if your child is diagnosed with the flu, a note from their healthcare provider be given to the school nurse. Unfortunately, there are many times when we are unable to confirm that a child has the flu unless a parent provides specific documentation. Also, a child may have a viral illness or influenza like illness, which in fact is not the flu. For cases they are aware of,
NPS school nurses keep track of the number of students who have tested positive for flu, and other illness trends. Due to HIPAA and FERPA privacy restrictions, NPS is unable to share student illness details with the public.


Anyone experiencing flu signs or symptoms should see their health provider right away.  Antiviral medications can help if taken early. According to the CDC, signs of the flu include:

  • Fever (although not everyone with flu will have a fever)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuff notes
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea for some, especially young children


Illness Prevention Best Practices

Educators continue to promote best practices regarding the spread of germs within classrooms. Handwashing is our best defense against illness.

Specific to the flu, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and our own school medical advisor, Dr. Norman Weinberger, the flu vaccine remains the best choice for preventing and lessening the effects of flu, even at this point in the season. With flu season expected to continue for several more weeks, it is not too late to get a flu shot. Contact you doctor or the Norwalk Health Department for more information. 

School Health Services and the Norwalk Health Department offered a program to many preschool and elementary school students throughout the district called "The Flu and You” in October.  This program addressed proper handwashing, covering your mouth and coughing into tissue or in the elbow of your sleeve. The program used a tool called Glo Germ, which reveals germs remaining on the hands of students after not washing effectively.

Steps for staying healthy include:

  • Washing your hands regularly. Washing hands often helps protect from germs. Schools are emphasizing thiswith our students as well.
  • Seeking care early. See your healthcare provider immediately if you develop flu symptoms.
  • Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Keep your child home from school when they are sick. This will help prevent others from catching their illness.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your school nurse, healthcare provider or the Norwalk Health Department.