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Essential health information from local experts

School Safety 101

School Safety 101

Stay Healthy, Stay Safe, Stay Focused

Summer is out and school is in. But before you send the wee ones off for another (or their first!) year of scholastic enterprise, take a moment to re-familiarize your favorite student and yourself with some basic tips to keep everyone healthy, safe and focused this year.

Stay Healthy

Sick? Stay Home: Ask yourself: Would you want another parent sending their sick child to school and spreading the illness to your child and your family?

School attendance is important, but not more important than the health of your child and their classmates. If your child has a fever, cough, sore throat, congestion, muscle soreness, nausea, diarrhea or other symptoms of possible illness, keep them home from school. If it’s mild, let them rest. If you’re concerned, call your pediatrician for guidance. If you do not have a doctor, you can see a healthcare professional at one of Sarasota Memorial’s six Urgent Care Centers.

Each school district and college/university has protocols for handling student illness, so be sure to familiarize yourself with these. Click here to view the Sarasota County Schools’ guidance regarding student illness, and click here for the School District of Manatee County.

Handwashing How-To: The best way to prevent the spread of germs and illnesses at school is to practice proper handwashing hygiene. So help your little ones avoid nasty illnesses like the flu, stomach bug and common cold—and help keep those germs out of your home—by emphasizing the importance of washing hands well and washing them often.

Tip:Teach young students to sing “Happy Birthday to You” twice while scrubbing hands to ensure they hit the recommended 20-second mark. But be warned, you’ll probably have to sing along.

An Ounce of Prevention:

Ensuring your child is up-to-date on all of their immunizations is crucial before sending them back to the classroom—especially with flu season right around the corner. So stay on top of annual check-ups and keep an eye on the recommended vaccine schedules.

Preventative medical care is always important, no matter your age.

CDC-Recommended Vaccine Schedules

For Children (ages 0-6)

For Children (ages 7-18)

Stay Safe

Whether your child has been riding a school bus for years or will be walking to school for the very first time, it’s important to review the essentials of getting to and from school safely.

Walking To School Safely:

  • Stay on sidewalks and paths as much as possible. If there are none, walk facing traffic and as far from passing vehicles as possible.
  • Cross the street at crosswalks and streetlights. Make eye contact with drivers before walking in front of them.
  • Always be alert. Watch out for careless or distracted drivers.

Biking To School Safely:

  • Always wear a helmet and make sure it fits properly.
  • Make sure the bike is the proper size, the tires are full and the brakes function.

When riding in the dark or fog, use lights as well as reflectors to let other commuters know you’re on the road.

Riding The Bus Safely:

  • Stand back from the road when waiting for the bus.
  • Hold the handrail when entering and exiting the bus.
  • Remain seated while the bus is in motion.
  • If you have to cross in front of the bus after being dropped off, walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus and wait for the driver to see you and signal you before you cross.


Put the Device Down

Did you know that distracted driving causes thousands of deaths each year? In 2020 alone, 3,142 deaths were directly linked to distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

As an adult on the road, you also have a responsibility to help ensure that every child makes it to school safely. This includes putting down the cell phone and giving your full attention to those bus stops and crosswalks.Stay Fueled & Focused

Stay Focused

Hydration Is Key: This is especially true for all those student-athletes enduring long practices in the afternoon sun. Encourage your student to drink water often and save the soda and sugary sports drinks for special occasions and celebrations.

Try A Protein-Rich Breakfast: Hard-boiled eggs, egg sandwiches or even toast with nut butter can provide your student with a nice protein boost to power them through the start of their day. Skip the sugar-laden cereals and breakfast bars, which will only set them up for a bad diet and a mid-morning crash.

Snack Smart: The vending machine can be as costly to your student’s health as it is to their (read: your) wallet. Help them ditch the chips by keeping easily snackable, healthy foods—such as nuts or sliced fruits & veggies—available for an afternoon or afterschool snack.

Sleep Well: Try to encourage/enforce/inflict a consistent sleep routine for your young scholar, despite their protestations. This should include powering down TVs, cell phones and other personal electronics for at least an hour before bedtime, as their use prior to sleep has been shown to decrease quality of that sleep.

And then all that’s left is convincing them to do their homework.

Good luck and have a great school year!

Written by Sarasota Memorial copywriter Philip Lederer, MA, who crafts a variety of external communications for the healthcare system. SMH’s in-house wordsmith, Lederer earned his Master’s degree in Public Administration and Political Philosophy from Morehead State University, Ky, and is still waiting for his letter from Hogwarts.