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How to avoid the ‘Back-To-School Plague’

wash hands

ATLANTA, Ga. (CNN) – As students head back to school in Oklahoma, experts say parents need to be reminded that the classroom at the start of a new school year can be a hot zone for germs.

It’s referred to informally among teachers and parents as the ‘back-to-school plague’.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that on average, elementary school students get 8 to 12 colds or cases of the flu each year.

So, what can parents, teachers, and kids do to keep the flu and other bugs at bay?

Experts say teach your kids healthy habits as they head back to school.

First, know the hot zones.  The germiest place at school isn’t the bathroom, it’s actually the water fountain.

Teach kids to run the water first, then drink or to bring their own water bottle.

Next, experts say antibacterial hand sanitizer is good, but hand washing is best.

A study at the University of Georgia found that only 28% of children know how to wash their hands correctly.

The rule of thumb is use hot water, soap, and wash long enough to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice.

Then, it’s about keeping their immune system up to give them a fighting chance against these common illnesses.

Make sure they get enough sleep.  Experts say school age kids need 10-11 hours a night.

It’s also recommended kids exercise at least 40 minutes a day and east a healthy diet rich in Vitamin C.

One expert called schools a ‘germ candy store’ because there are so many germs and so many little hands touching everything in sight.

Health experts hope parents and kids follow the tips mentioned above to help keep kids healthy and out of the doctor’s office this school year.