The Good News? No Illness At Sunrise Montessori
There weren’t many positive things we could point easily to this past year but virtually no illness at Sunrise Montessori was definitely one of them.
Everyone wearing masks and not socializing with others really kept those illnesses we’re all familiar at bay. We marveled that Hand, Foot and Mouth, the flu and strep throat were no-shows for so long. But sadly not anymore. 🙁 Familiar, contagious, every day illnesses are back and like someone who’s been cooped up for too long, they are making up for lost time.
Blogging about illness at our school is probably not what you would expect an owner of said business to openly do. It’s not something I have done before and don’t even know how far to go. I like to push boundaries though (I’m a business owner after all, can’t do that without being somewhat comfortable with risk), so let’s see if I can go juuuuuust far enough to inform you but not so far that you want to demonize child care altogether. (We have parents every year who accuse us of manufacturing illnesses and giving them to their child. Allow me to assure you, we are not a lab developing contagious illnesses. 😉 What’s propelling me to do this blog post is that I want you to know what’s coming. I don’t like to be caught unaware and I don’t want you to be either, so let’s dive into the murky waters of typical childhood illnesses and what’s going on right now.
Strep dipped its toe in the water first a couple months ago, just around the time we stopped wearing masks. A few older children got it, but that one is harder to get and isn’t as contagious, so although we had a few cases, we got through it okay.
Then Hand, Foot and Mouth decided to come in hard and fast and it was the worst we had ever seen. Pediatrician Dr. Lisa Gaw with Texas Children’s Urgent Care said they’ve been treating more children with common illnesses including Hand, Foot and Mouth, croup, strep throat and the common cold, which had nearly disappeared during the pandemic. “It’s very unusual to see this volume of sick kids during the summer,” said Sally Goza, immediate past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This is the time of year we normally are doing checkups for camp.”
But is this really a shock? We have been shedding masks and abandoning social distancing; it was only a matter of time. The CDC said in a statement that it expects respiratory viruses to circulate more widely as people relax coronavirus avoidance strategies and schools and workplaces return to operating in person, sometimes with uncommon virulence among children whose immune systems did not begin building up familiarity with them while the pandemic kept people isolated at home (which explains possibly why this season’s Hand, Foot and Mouth virus was so bad). Source
They say things come in 3’s. Remember the regular, old fashioned flu? We had one of the mildest flu seasons on record these past two springs because we were wearing masks. Well, it just landed…we had a Sunrise parent email us yesterday that her child was diagnosed with it. That’s the first case I’ve heard of so far this year.
Because the Covid Delta variant is so contagious, some experts are recommending masks again, even if you’re fully vaccinated. From our experience and what I’ve heard from other business owners, if you haven’t been vaccinated, it seems like this version is going to strongly introduce itself, which is why I went back to mandating all adults at Sunrise wear masks. Mask wearing may help with the spread of these common childhood illnesses, but it’s only temporary. Familiar illnesses are rearing their ugly heads and like a teenager from the 80s wearing Goth, they want to make sure everyone notices them. And with schools about to start their school year and so many people starting to look for jobs again, we need to expect that we’re going to get sick or hear about others getting sick more often for awhile.
I hate just giving in though. So what can you do?
The same things we’ve been doing all along to keep illness down:
1) Wash your hands and make sure your child washes their hands often. We have our children at Sunrise wash their hands CONSTANTLY (when they come back from playing outside, before eating snack and lunch, before and after diaper changes, etc.). Have a child who resists it? I used to ask my son, John, to present his hands to me so I could smell the soap.
2) Leave tissue boxes around the house. If you hear a sniffle, ask your child to blow their nose, have them throw it out immediately after use, then wash their hands afterwards.
3) If your child doesn’t feel well, keep them at home. Become a detective of your child’s bodily functions. Do they sound sick? Flushed in the face? Eating the same? Children rarely declare they are not feeling well, they show it instead, but you can absolutely scan your child for anything abnormal. You know, some might call this even a superpower. (Type A Moms unite!)
4) You can do what we do here at Sunrise and sanitize surfaces you touch frequently, like door knobs, light switches, cabinet knobs, and toilet flushers. Just add a teaspoon of bleach to a bottle of water, spray, wipe it off but not hard so that a little is left to disinfect. Or you can use a disinfectant spray like Lysol.
5) Bomb your car. We do it here at Sunrise and it WORKS. We use the Big D Pheno-D Fogger in our classrooms. You can buy it on Amazon. Just roll those windows up on your car, set the fogger on a paper towel somewhere in the middle of your car and let it do its thing. Don’t forget to air it out after awhile!
I wish I had better news to relay. Dealing with illnesses when we’ve been living with Covid for so long is just not cool, but if you are aware of what’s happened and what’s coming, we can better prepare.
Between you and our Sunrise team working hard to sanitize and detect illness, we can prevent our children from picking up some of the regular bugs that we’re used to seeing.