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Keeping childcare settings free from germs

Many of us must work for a living. Those of us who have children place them in childcare facilities. Children spend 40 hours or more per week in childcare facilities.

As parents, we trust childcare providers are trained to protect, teach and care for our most prized possessions. There are many concerns that a childcare provider or teacher has when caring for someone else’s child, one being, “how do I keep them healthy?”

Let’s face it; infections are a normal part of childhood. The variety and number of infections lead researchers to believe that most children will have at least six to eight respiratory infections each year. These include colds, ear infections, sinus infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. I would be remiss not to mention pinkeye, stomach flu and sore throat, which also derive from viral or bacterial infections.

The aforementioned infections have very serious health implications for children (specifically infants and toddlers) and their families. It is of equal importance to childcare providers.

Children, by their nature, are more susceptible to infectious diseases. Frequent hand-to-mouth behaviors, still learning appropriate hygiene skills (keeping fingers out of nose, covering coughs, proper hand-washing) all lend themselves to the spread of germs and ultimately disease. Children also have close physical contact and do not practice much social distancing.

Young children in large groups (childcare settings) are the perfect breeding grounds for the organisms that cause illness. Think little hands rubbing drippy noses and then transferring those germs to other children or to shared toys. Children also cough and sneeze, releasing germs into the air and onto other children and share items that may be mouthed or touched by another child. Not only do those germs spread from child to child, but from child to provider, among providers and from provider to child.

The good news is the spread of infectious disease in childcare facilities can be minimized. Understanding and preventing diseases transmission as well as promoting clean environments are routine tasks for early childhood educators. Staying updated on best management practices in childcare settings through regular training is one of the best things facilities can do to minimize the spread of disease.

The Macon-Bibb County Cooperative Extension will host a Preventing the Spread of Infectious Disease in Child Care Facilities workshop. The workshop will provide participants the opportunity to learn about various types of bacteria, viruses and other pathogens and how they spread.

This course provides the latest recommendations and standards from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other national health organizations. Topics include hygiene practices, criteria for exclusion from group childcare, recognizing signs and symptoms of disease, cleaning and sanitation policies and communicating with families. The workshop is a Bright from the Start accepted training.

The workshop will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. May 10 at the Rumford Center Methodist Home’s Evan Conference Room, located at 304 Pierce Ave. Registration for the workshop is $10. For more information and to register, contact me at the phone number of email listed below. Space is limited, so sign up early.

Contact county Extension agent Keishon J. Thomas at 478-751-6338 or thomaskj@uga.edu.

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