Island Health says hand washing is the first of three pillars of making this school year a healthy and happy one for kids.

Health Authority issues tips on staying healthy as you (and your kids) head back to school

Hand washing, sleep and exercise the three pillars of a healthy school year

Students are heading back to school in a week and Island Health has issued some tips to help families make sure it’s a happy and healthy year.

There are three simple ways to make the school year more successful, the release from Island Health says.

1 – Wash your hands

Back to school means back to bugs and germs! The best way to ward off common illnesses like colds, flus, strep throat, respiratory viruses and many more is proper hand washing. Most kids know they should wash their hands before and after eating and after every trip to the bathroom, but they should also be washing their hands after gym classes, playing outdoors and first thing when they get home from school or other outings.

2 – Sleep

Elementary and middle school children need 9 to 11 hours of sleep every night. High school students needs slightly less sleep – 8 to 10 hours. Start a positive sleep cycle at least one week before school begins and try to keep bedtime and wake up time consistent all week long. Make sure the child’s room is calm, dark and comfortable to encourage a solid sleep. Take phones and devices out of their bedrooms while they are sleeping.

3 – Physical Activity

Every child needs 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. To ensure overall health, kids also need a couple more hours of less intense physical activity like walking to school, riding a bike and playing in a playground. (Just as important is limiting screen time to less than two hours a day!)

“Help your children get a strong and healthy start by encouraging exercise, setting screen time limits and ensuring proper sleep so they can function all day at school,” says Dr. Dee Hoyano, Island Health Medical Health Officer. “Prevent sick days for you and your children by making proper hand washing – 20 seconds of scrubbing with soap and 20 seconds of rinsing with warm water – a regular routine.”