Avoiding Illness

Schools can be a haven for illness. Flu, strep, the common cold, and other germs can thrive in the crowded environment. One of the best defenses against your children getting sick is to teach good hygiene habits.

  • Send your children to school with hand sanitizer (if allowed).
  • Stress the importance of handwashing, particularly before eating.
  • Teach kids to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or coughing or sneezing into their sleeve if a tissue isn't available).
  • Tell them to avoid sharing personal items like combs, hats, towels, etc.
  • If your child is sick or has a fever, do not send them to school. They will only spread the disease to others. Let them stay home.

Returning to School after Illness

More Health Tips

How to Avoid the Flu and Other Germs

  • Everyone should take these everyday steps to protect your health and lessen the spread of this virus and other germs:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

  • If you are sick with a flu-like illness, stay home for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.

  • Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

  • When flu shots are available get them for your children and all family members.

  • Students, faculty or staff with influenza-like illness (fever with a cough or sore throat) should stay home and not attend school or go into the community except to seek medical care for at least 7 days even if symptoms resolve sooner.

  • Students, faculty and staff who appear to have an influenza-like illness at arrival or become ill during the day should be isolated and sent home.

  • Parents and guardians should monitor their school-aged children, and faculty and staff should self-monitor every morning for symptoms of flu-like illness.

  • Ill students should not attend alternative child care or congregate in other neighborhood and community settings outside of school.

Students, faculty and staff should stringently follow sanitary measures to reduce the spread of flu, including covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or coughing or sneezing into their sleeve if a tissue isn’t available), frequently washing hands with soap and water, or using hand sanitizer if hand washing with soap and water is not possible.

Get your flu shot

The single best way to prevent flu is to get a yearly flu shot in the fall. Continue to be alert for signs of flu which include: fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches. Children can also have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Keep children home from school (or stay home from work) till they are no longer contagious (usually 5 days) and feeling better. This prevents others from getting sick too.

Keeping Germs Away: What Can You Do?

Follow these steps to help you and your family stay healthy and prevent the spread of flu and other germs.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water – you can also use an alcohol-based hand cleaner (use with care for young children).
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze – if no tissues cough into your sleeve.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs often spread this way.
  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered until healed.
  • Shower/bathe after exercise or sports participation.
  • Avoid contact with wounds and bandages.
  • Avoid sharing personal items like towels and razors.

People can develop skin infections that are resistant to the most common forms of antibiotics – this infection is called MRSA.

Please be assured that Newport News Public Schools is using appropriate preventative measures to limit the spread of ALL bacterial infections.

You and your family can prevent the spread of infection by following good hygiene practices:

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water;
  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered until healed;
  • Avoid contact with wounds and bandages; and
  • Avoid sharing personal items like towels and razors.

For more information, talk with your school nurse or visit the following web sites:

If you suspect that someone in your family has a skin infection, please call your doctor.

Did you know?

Ringworm is a fungus and called “ringworm” because it is in a circular, raised, segmented pattern. It is mostly spread by skin to skin contact. Susceptibility is aggravated by friction and excessive sweating. Athlete’s foot is “ringworm” on the feet and can be caught in a moist, poorly cleaned shower. Both conditions can be treated with over the counter medication. However, ringworm of the scalp must be treated with prescription medication. Ask your pharmacist or see your doctor.

Here at school, while being treated, we ask that ringworm be covered. In locker rooms, gyms and on equipment we use fungicidal cleaning agents.

Impetigo/Staph Infections are caused by the staphylococcus bacteria getting into a sore or break in the skin. About 1/3 of the infections are caused by “autoinfection” from the bacteria in your nose. Skin to skin contact from draining skin sores is the other most common source. Topical treatment is usually all that is needed. Areas should be covered while at school. If the area spreads see your doctor.

Cold Sores (herpes type I): 50-90% of the adult population has been exposed to this virus. Most primary infections occur before the age of 5. Cold sores are spread by contact with saliva. After primary infection reoccurrences can happen from trauma, illnesses, stress and physiological changes. There are some good over the counter medications as well as prescriptions medications that can treat cold sores.

Newport News Public Schools uses appropriate preventative measures to limit the spread of infections. Call your school nurses and coaches if you have questions.

General Information about Norovirus

  • Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis [gas-trō-en-ter-ī-tis] in people. Commonly referred to as the “stomach flu”, gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestines, causing an acute onset of severe vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Norovirus illness is usually brief in people who are otherwise healthy.
  • Young children, the elderly, and people with other medical illnesses are most at risk for more severe or prolonged infection, especially dehydration
  • Noroviruses are not affected by treatment with antibiotics.
  • Norovirus infections spread very rapidly and are extremely contagious. This means that low level contamination of food, water, and surfaces can lead to outbreaks.
  • Healthcare facilities and other institutional settings (e.g., daycare centers, schools, etc.) are particularly at-risk for outbreaks because of increased person-to-person contact.
  • Since the virus is passed in vomit and stool, children should not go to daycare or school while they have diarrhea or vomiting and for 24 hours once illness ends.
  • Persons who work in nursing homes, take care of patients, or handle food should stay out of work while they are sick and for at least two days after symptoms end.

Norovirus Is Spread by:

  • Having direct contact with another person who is infected .
  • Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus
  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then touching your mouth , nose or other food items

Symptoms of Norovirus

  • The symptoms of norovirus illness usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping.
  • Sometimes people also have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness.
  • People may suddenly feel very sick and vomit frequently or have several episodes of diarrhea, but most people get better within 1 or 2 days and they have no long-term health effects related to their illness.
  • Diarrhea is more common in children and vomiting is more common in adults.


  • Follow hand-hygiene guidelines, and carefully washing of hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, before and after eating and if in contact with anyone suspected of having norovirus.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect high touch surfaces and equipment with an Environmental Protection Agency-approved product with a label claim for norovirus
  • Healthcare and food service workers who have symptoms consistent with norovirus should be excluded from work
  • CDC recommends that those with norovirus stay home for 48 hours after symptoms subside

Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, if soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. These alcohol-based products can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but they are not a substitute for washing with soap and water.

Environmental Cleaning

  • Use a disinfectant which specifically states it will kill norovirus and follow manufacturer’s instructions and prescribed surface contact time.
  • If no such cleaning product is available, you can use a solution made household bleach**
  • Repeated applications are suggested to ensure treated area remains saturated to achieve required contact time.
  • Perform routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched environmental surfaces in both high and low traffic areas.
  • Frequently touched surfaces include, but are not limited to, potty seats, toilets, faucets, telephones, door handles, computer equipment, and kitchen preparation surfaces.
  • Change mop heads when new solutions are prepared, or after cleaning large spills of vomit or fecal material.
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of student areas and frequently touched surfaces during outbreaks of norovirus.

**CHLORINE BLEACH Disinfectant

  • Clean hard, non-porous surfaces with 1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water for 5 minutes
  • Soiled hard, non-porous surfaces 1 2/3 cup bleach per gallon of water
  • Soiled porous surfaces1 2/3 cup bleach per gallon of water