Health Tips & News
Respiratory Illness Health Reminders
Updated January 2024
As the cold and flu season continues and we experience an increase in cases of COVID, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), Influenza (the Flu) and other respiratory illnesses, please take a few minutes to review the health information below which outlines important information to keep your family and the school community as healthy as possible.
- Stay up to date with Influenza and COVID-19 vaccines.
- Stay home from school, work, daycare and other activities if you are sick.
- Consider wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth if you have symptoms of respiratory illness – coughing, stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat.
- Staying hypervigilant, especially for those who live with higher risk individuals: infants, older adults, pregnant people, and people born pre-term or those with underlying health conditions.
- Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for least 20 seconds to protect yourself from germs and avoid spreading them to others.
- Do not cough or sneeze into your hands. Instead, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Teach and remind children to do this, too.
- Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol to use when soap and water are not available.
Respiratory illnesses can cause mild to severe illness. Most cases will resolve on their own within seven to ten days, but some cases may require hospitalization.
Please monitor your child for the following symptoms:
- fever or feeling feverish/chills
- sore throat
- runny or stuff nose
- muscle or body aches
- some may experience vomiting and diarrhea
Children experiencing the following symptoms require immediate medical attention:
- fast breathing or trouble breathing
- bluish skin color
- not drinking enough fluids
- very sleepy or lethargic
If your child develops the above symptoms, please do not send your child to school. Instead, please contact your child’s health care provider, for a prompt and proper diagnosis and treatment. Young children, older adults, people with weakened immune systems, and those with chronic medical conditions such as heart and lung disease, asthma or diabetes are at higher risk for a more severe illness and complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, and dehydration. A child with a respiratory illness may return to school 24 hours after the child’s last fever and when the child is well enough to learn. For return to school following a diagnosis of COVID, please refer to CDC isolation guidelines at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/isolation.html
The best way to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses is to wash your hands frequently with warm soap and water, refrain from putting your hands to your face and mouth, and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the school nurse or your child’s health care provider. For additional information, please visit the NYS Department of Health website at https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/respiratory_syncytial_virus/understanding.htmSudden Cardiac Arrest
- NYSED Sudden Cardiac Arrest Letter to Parents/Guardians
- NYSED MEMO - Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Seasonal Flu Health Information
- New York State Department of Health - What You Should Know About the Flu
- Fight Flu at Home and School
- Flu Guide for Parents
- New York State Department of Health: Flu (Influenza) Information for School and Childcare
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Flu Resources
For Information on specific health topics, please click on the heading below:
- COVID-19 Education
- Head Lice
- International Travel
- Related Links
May 2018: According to federal health officials, the number of people acquiring diseases transmitted by mosquito, tick and flea bites has more than tripled in the United States in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not advise people to cancel their outdoor activities but they emphasize the increasing importance for everyone, especially children, to protect themselves from outdoor pests as we enter the warmer weather.
According to the CDC, new tick-borne diseases like the Heartland virus are being reported in the continental U.S., even as cases of Lyme disease and other established infections are growing. On island territories like Puerto Rico, mosquitoes are carrying viruses like dengue and Zika.
Please read the information available at the links, below, to learn how to protect your family from vector-borne illnesses.
What is Measles? Measles is a highly contagious and very serious respiratory disease caused by a virus.
What are the symptoms? Measles symptoms usually appear in 10 to 12 days after exposure, but can occur as late as 18 days after exposure. Symptoms generally appear in two stages. In the first stage, which lasts two to four days, the individual may have a runny nose, cough and a slight fever. Eyes may become reddened and sensitive to light while the fever gradually rises each day, often peaking as high as 103° to 105° F. Small bluish white spots surrounded by a reddish area may also appear on the gums and inside of the cheeks. The second stage begins on the third to seventh day and consists of a red blotchy rash lasting five to six days. The rash usually begins on the face and then spreads downward and outward, reaching the hands and feet. The rash fades in the same order that it appeared, from head to extremities.
How is Measles spread? Measles is spread through contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people. When an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks, droplets become airborne and are infectious. Droplets from an infected person landing on surfaces may remain active and contagious for up to 2 hours.
Who is at risk? Although measles is usually considered a childhood disease, it can be contracted at any age by individuals who never had the measles disease or been vaccinated. A person is considered immune from contracting measles if they have received two doses of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine OR if they were born before January 1, 1957, OR have a history of laboratory-confirmed measles, OR have a blood test confirming immunity. Unimmunized individuals, including adults, should contact their private health care providers to check on their immunization status. Anyone who believes they might have been exposed, especially pregnant women, should contact their private health care providers.
The single best way to prevent measles is to be vaccinated. More information regarding measles can be found at: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/measles/fact_sheet.htm
Back to top
Enterovirus produces symptoms much like the common cold: fever, runny nose, sneezing, and coughing with some infected individuals experiencing skin rash, mouth blisters, and muscle aches. Not all people who get EV D68 will have severe illness but if your child shows signs of difficulty breathing or severe wheezing with a respiratory illness, take your child to be evaluated immediately.
There is no vaccine to prevent Enterovirus and no specific treatment. This is a good time to remind your children of the importance of prevention measures to minimize the spread of the virus, including the following:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching of eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
- Use the same precautions used to prevent the spread of influenza.
If your child becomes ill with a fresh upper respiratory illness, please consult with your child’s healthcare provider. It may also be necessary to keep your child at home to rest and recover.
For more information about Enterovirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) site:
- Head lice are VERY common in children ages 3 to 12 years and are found more commonly in girls than boys.
- Having head lice doesn’t equal poor hygiene practices.
- Head lice have existed for many centuries and do NOT spread disease, although they are a major nuisance.
- Live lice can only live one to two days when not on an individual’s head.
- Live lice CRAWL, they cannot jump or fly.
- A nit is simply a louse’s egg; the egg must hatch, which takes about 10 days, in order to produce a live louse. Nits found more than ¼ inch down the hair shaft are usually considered non-viable (they will not hatch).
- Direct head to head contact with an infested individual is the most common way to get head lice. Less likely is contracting head lice through sharing personal items such as combs, brushes, headphones, and hats.
- Lice can be transmitted easily between family members, close play mates, during sleep overs, and at camps.
- Seeking prompt and proper treatment is essential in eliminating an active case of head lice.
- Head lice are not as contagious as you may think…a child typically has head lice for 4 to 6 weeks before it is identified (this is the length of time it takes for a person to develop a sensitivity to the salvia of a head louse; this sensitivity is what causes the head itching and scratching). After 4 to 6 weeks of an individual being infested with head lice, one would expect that the entire classroom would have head lice and this is rarely the case. It is much easier to contract a common cold than it is to get head lice.
Helpful Tips to Prevent the Spread of Head Lice
- Become familiar with the signs and symptoms to look for in a child with head lice (i.e. a child continuously scratching their head, sores on a child’s head caused by scratching, the presence of live lice and nits close to the child’s scalp).
- Check your child’s head daily for live lice and nits. Live lice are usually few in number, can move quickly and are hard to detect. The most common areas to find lice are behind the ears, at the crown of the head, and at the base of the neck. Consult with the school nurse as to how to properly check your child’s head and to review exactly what a head louse and a nit look like. A louse is about the size of a sesame seed and is tan to brownish-red in color. A nit is small, yellow or gray-white in color, and oval-shaped. Nits are not easily removed from the hair shaft, they are usually “glued” tightly which is unlike dandruff, gel, or hairspray remnants that can easily be removed.
- Remind your child not to share personal items such as hats, combs/brushes, headphones, and scarves.
- Encourage your child to do their best to avoid direct head to head contact with other children (this is the most common way head lice are spread from one individual to another).
- Consider having your child with long hair wear their hair back in a pony-tail.
- Place hats, scarves, gloves in a child’s zipped back pack or in the sleeves of a child’s jacket as this can be helpful in preventing the spread of head lice.
Head Lice Treatment Measures
- Consult with your child’s health care provider for treatment options/recommendations as soon as head lice have been identified on your child’s head. Following product package instructions and your doctor’s recommendations are a must.
- Notify the school nurse if your child has been treated for head lice. A child who has active head lice should be properly treated before they return to school and should see the school nurse daily for head checks.
- Vacuum all rugs, carpets, car upholstery, and furniture daily for 10 days; starting with the day your child is identified with and treated for head lice through the second head lice treatment (typically given 7 to 10 days after the first treatment).
- Wash all bedding, clothes, hats, and scarves on a hot cycle and dry clothes on a high heat setting for at least 30 minutes. This should be done after head lice have been identified on your child (one time should be sufficient unless you are still seeing active live lice).
- Wash all combs, brushes, and hair accessories in hot soapy water or soak in rubbing alcohol or Lysol for one hour.
- All non-washable items can be placed in a sealed plastic bag for 2 weeks.
- Check your child’s head daily at home for the presence of live lice and nits. Fine comb the hair and remove all nits found. Let the school nurse know if you discover any live lice and/or nits.
- If multiple cases of head lice have been detected in your child’s classroom, we would ask that you send in a plastic bag for your child’s belongings to be stored in during the school day.
- Centers for Disease Control. Head Lice Infestation Fact Sheet. 11/29/10
- Devore, Cynthia D. AskSNN Q&A. School Nurse News. November 2010.
- Frankowski, B.L., Bocchini, J.A., and Council of School Health and Committee on Infectious Diseases. Head Lice. July 26, 2010. Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Guillebeau, P. & Van De Mark, G. A Parent’s Guide to the Nitty-Gritty about Head Lice. The University of Georgia. Cooperative Extension Service; College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
- Pontius, D.J. NASN School Nurse. Hats off to Success Changing Head Lice Policy,Table 1. Lice 101: Everything You Really Didn’t Want to Know About Lice! November 2011
Back to top
March 7, 2018 -- According to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), influenza activity has been geographically widespread in the state for ten consecutive weeks. Please read the information below to better understand how to protect yourself and your family from the influenza virus.
Influenza Q & A for Parents
What is Influenza (flu)? The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses, which can be mild to severe, sometimes requiring hospitalization. Up to 20% of the population gets the flu.
What are the symptoms? Symptoms of the flu may include high fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
What are possible complications? Some complications of the flu include pneumonia, dehydration, sinus or ear infections, and worsening of some conditions such as asthma and diabetes.
How does the flu spread? The flu is spread by respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing, or touching surfaces contaminated with viruses and then touching the mouth or nose. People are contagious beginning one day before getting symptoms and over a week after getting sick.
How can I help prevent the spread of the flu? Everyone should practice proper hand hygiene, cover all coughs into the crux of the arm so as to decrease contamination to the hands, clean environmental surfaces regularly.
How is a cold different from the flu? Differences between a cold and the flu vary. In general, the flu is worse than a cold and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough are more common and intense. Colds tend to develop slowly, more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose and usually do not develop into serious symptoms.
How can I protect myself from the flu? THE BEST WAY TO PREVENT THE FLU IS BY GETTING A VACCINATION EVERY YEAR.
Who should get a flu vaccine? Flu vaccine should be given to all persons, including school-aged children.
Those at greatest risk for complications of the flu include those who are:
- under 6 months of age to 19 years of age
- over age 50, those on long-term aspirin therapy
- pregnant women
- individuals with weakened immune system
- individuals with chronic medical conditions
- health care workers
- healthy household contacts, caregivers of persons with chronic medical conditions
A full list of recommendations is available at: http://www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/influenza/fact_sheet.htm
Quick Tips for Staying Healthy: Prevention is Key!
- Get your yearly Flu vaccine
- Cover all coughs and sneezes either with the crux of your arm or with a tissue
- Throw tissues out immediately after use
- Wash your hands with soap & water frequently, sing the Happy Birthday song twice while washing
- Use hand sanitizer when no soap is available
- Keep hands away from your face including your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Get plenty of sleep every night, children require at least 10 hours per night
- Increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables
- Stay physically active and physically fit
Influenza Informational Resources:
When to Keep a Child With Illness Home During the Flu Season
It can be difficult for a parent to decide whether to send children to school when they wake up with early symptoms of an illness or complaints that they do not feel well. Consider the following guidelines when deciding to send your child to school.
When to send your child to school: In general, during cold and flu season, unless your child is significantly ill, it is okay to send them to school where they have already been exposed to the same germs and where they are less likely to expose other more vulnerable people, like the very young or very old, to routine bouts of cold and flu. It is important to remind and show your children to discard used tissues promptly, not to share personal items, to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, to keep their hands away from their face, and to wash hands thoroughly and often with soap and warm water. Suggest that they silently sing the Happy Birthday song twice while washing their hands. If you send your child to school even though you suspect there is significant illness, as described above, please call the school nurse to provide her/him with phone numbers where you can be reached that day should your child become more ill and require early dismissal.
When to keep your child home: There are some situations in which it is best to keep your child home for a day to rest or to arrange for an appointment with your health care provider. If you know your child is running a fever, it is best to allow them to remain at home in bed and take their medications until they are off all medicines and ready to learn for a full day in a classroom. If there is a pattern of your child’s asking to stay home from school, especially if they are falling behind or appear anxious by the thought of attending school, or if there does not appear to be any obvious physical symptoms, it may be a good idea to contact your school nurse and your health care provider to discuss your concerns. Remember, whenever you keep your child home from school, please call the school nurse or attendance office before the start of the school day and leave a message that your child will be absent.
The following are a few such situations that warrant watching and possibly conferring with your health care provider:
- Persistent fever higher than 100.4° orally, including a fever that requires control with medication.
- Child is too sleepy or ill from an illness, like vomiting and/or diarrhea, to profit from sitting in class all day.
- Significant cough that makes a child feel uncomfortable or disrupts the class.
- Sore throat that is severe, accompanied by fever and/or feeling ill, that persists longer than 48 hours, OR after known exposure to a confirmed case of Streptococcal throat infection.
- Honey-crusted sores around the nose or mouth or rash on other body parts that might be impetigo; OR a rash in various stages including boils, sores and bumps that may be chicken pox; OR a significant rash accompanied by other symptoms of illness such as fever.
- Red, runny eyes that distract the child from learning.
- Large amount of discolored nasal discharge, especially if accompanied by facial pain or headache.
- Severe ear pain or drainage from the ear.
- Severe headache, especially if accompanied by fever.
- Any condition that you think may be serious or contagious to others.
A note of caution in children
Health care professionals strongly advise against ever using aspirin or aspirin-containing products in children without the expressed permission of the child’s medical provider due to an association to REYES SYNDROME. Reyes Syndrome is a very serious disease that develops as one is getting over a viral illness that targets the liver and brain and is difficult to diagnose (should be suspected in anyone who vomits repeatedly about 3 to 5 days after the onset of the illness) and should be monitored by the primary medical provider. It is best to read the labels of any over-the-counter medications/products for aspirin-containing ingredients (salicylate compounds). Some common items (also applies to generic brands): Alka Seltzer, Excedrin, Maalox, Pamprin, topical skin products (acne treatments), muscle and joint creams, wart removers, and others.
Back to top
For families planning to travel internationally over the summer months, now is an excellent time to review your families’ immunization status with your private health care provider to make sure you and your family are sufficiently protected against diseases such as polio, measles, mumps and pertussis. Preventable diseases once thought to be eliminated are resurfacing, some even reaching epidemic proportions. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have issued traveler guidelines that you may want to review and discuss with your private health care provider particularly if you are planning to travel to any of the following locations: Pakistan, Cameroon, Syria, Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Somalia, or Nigeria.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - CDC
Travelers to polio-affected areas should review with their health care provider the following guidance prior to travel: Chapter 4 Travel - Related Infectious Diseases Poliomyelitis
Travelers also may be impacted by Polio Vaccination Recommendations in countries with ongoing poliovirus transmission. Your primary care provider should be able to address these recommendations with you. In addition, it has been recommended that travelers to or from all 10 countries should be given an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis: International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP)
For more detailed information regarding polio, measles, mumps, and pertussis, please visit the CDC website by using the following links:
- Polio http://www.cdc.gov/polio/
- Measles http://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/index.html
- Mumps http://www.cdc.gov/mumps/index.html
- Pertussis http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/
- Immunization Information For further information on immunization requirements.
- Medication Guidelines For further information on physician orders and medication guidelines for school use.
- Health and Dental Appraisal Forms To download a copy of the Williamsville Central School District's health and/or dental appraisal form to be completed by physician or dentist.
- Cold and Flu Season - When to keep your child home from school