Back to School: Tips on Staying Healthy, Safe

It’s almost time for kids and teens to return to school. And when it comes to their health, this time of year usually offers a ripe opportunity for getting sick. Here’s why, according to David Mishkin, M.D., medical director for Baptist Health’s Care On Demand, a platform that provides patients with immediate online access to a doctor via an app.

“Large groups of people are getting back together after being separated for the summer,” says Dr. Mishkin. “What we find is that this is a great opportunity for people to get each other sick and spread germs.”

It’s not just the kids who may be recipients of germs. Parents are getting back into the full swing of things at the office and becoming more susceptible to infections as well.

“People are obviously doing more multitasking and returning to fully staffed offices and we see an uptick in infections,” says Dr. Mishkin. “Hygiene, particularly frequent hand-washing, becomes even more important.”

As South Florida moves further into the fall season, Dr. Mishkin expects the Care On Demand platform to see a surge in school-related viruses, especially in kids with sore throats, ear infections and upper respiratory infections. Adults as well might see flare ups in their allergies, he adds. And there’s the added stress of returning to full work and school schedules, which can weaken people’s immune systems.

“The best message is prevention and early intervention,” Dr. Mishkin. “You’re better off interacting with us at Care On Demand early, before it becomes too complex for parents.”

Here are several tips for helping fight infections and staying healthy and safe when classes restart later this month.

Back-to-School Handwashing Tips:

Here are hand-washing guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Wet hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to get the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.|
  • If soap and water are unavailable, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol, especially

Safety Tips for Kids Returning to School

The National Safety Council provides this checklist covering back-to-school safety:


  • Walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk and you must walk in the street, walk facing traffic.
  • Before crossing the street, stop and look left, right and left again to see if cars are coming.
  • Never dart out in front of a parked car.
  • Parents: Practice walking to school with your child, crossing streets at crosswalks when available.
  • Never walk while texting or talking on the phone.
  • Do not walk while using headphones.

Bike Riders

  • Always wear a helmet that fits and secures properly.
  • Children need to know the rules of the road: Ride single file on the right side of the road, come to a complete stop before crossing the street and walk the bike across.
  • Watch for opening car doors and other hazards.
  • Use hand signals when turning.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing.

Bus Riders

  • Teach children the proper way to get on and off the bus.
  • Line up 6 feet away from the curb as the bus approaches.
  • If seat belts are available, buckle up.
  • Wait for the bus to stop completely before standing.
  • Do not cross in front of the bus if possible, or walk at least 10 feet ahead until you can see the other drivers.


  • Don’t block crosswalks.
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and take extra care in school zones.
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
  • Never pass a bus loading or unloading children.
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them to safely enter and exit the bus.

Care On Demand
If getting to a health clinic is difficult, Baptist Health offers Care On Demand for individuals anywhere in the state of Florida. Care On Demand is an app that conveniently allows you to see a doctor for minor illnesses and injuries via your smartphone or tablet, and the physician can prescribe medicines if needed or recommend someone if you need further evaluation.

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With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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