Column: District 518 busy promoting good healthWORTHINGTON — It has been a good year in the health offices at District 518.
By: Wendy Donkersloot, District 518, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — It has been a good year in the health offices at District 518. We are thankful for the high participation in the flu shot clinic that was offered to our staff and students this past fall in coordination with the Worthington Area Health Care Foundation, Avera Worthington Specialty Clinic and Sanford Worthington Clinic. The overall rate of student absence and illness is down significantly from previous years. This is likely due to the higher immunization rates and families taking better precautions to reduce the spread of illness. Here are a few things you can to do to help:
Teach your children to wash their hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. You can set a good example by doing this yourself.
Teach your children not to share personal items like drinks, food or unwashed utensils, and to cover their coughs and sneezes with tissues. Covering up their coughs or sneezes using the elbow, arm or sleeve instead of the hand when a tissue is unavailable.
Know the signs and symptoms of the flu. Symptoms of the flu include fever (100 degrees F or more), cough, sore throat, a runny/stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and feeling tired.
Keep sick children at home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have fever or do not have signs of fever, without using fever-reducing drugs. Keeping children with a fever at home will reduce the number of people who may get infected. Please do not send children to school if they are sick.
Recently the school nurses completed hearing and vision screenings on the kindergarten, first-, third-, fifth- and eighth-grade students. If students struggle to see and hear, they will struggle to read and write. In collaboration with Minnesota West associate degree nursing students — as part of their clinical experience — over 600 students at Prairie Elementary went through the screening last week. Parents of the students that did not pass the screenings will receive referral letters in the mail encouraging them to take their child to the eye doctor or hearing specialist. Last year at least 35 children got glasses after the screening at Prairie. In the middle school, 359 students were screened this winter.
Another big focus this year is wellness for our students and staff. Our district wellness policy is being reviewed and updated in an effort to assure we are taking steps to promote healthier lifestyles. Some of the activities that are happening include:
Nutrition education is being brought into the elementary classrooms by the Nobles County Extension Service.
The dietary manager is involved with the Farm to School program bringing locally grown fruits and vegetables to our cafeterias.
I visit classrooms with hand hygiene, body system function, and dental care promotion.
There will be healthy food and fitness activities for middle school students in the spring.
Staff activities include:
l A weight loss challenge going on right now.
l “Wellness Wednesdays” that promote healthy lunches and recipes.
l A weekly health bulletin with tips for a healthier lifestyle.
Together we can teach and model healthy behavior to our children.
Wendy Donkersloot is a District 518 registered nurse.