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Experts Share Tips For Healthy Return To Norwalk Schools

Norwalk Public Schools students return to class next week.
Norwalk Public Schools students return to class next week. Photo Credit: Daily Voice File

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Public Schools start the 2013-2014 school year next week. School nurses and other health professionals have shared some advice to keeping kids healthy throughout the year.

Norwalk’s school nurses offered parents a “checklist” in preparation for the back-to-school season, as recommended by the National Association of School Nurses.

All parents should make sure that their kids’ vaccines are up-to-date, and that their children know proper hygiene techniques to prevent the spread of common diseases and infections.

The Norwalk Health Department offers physicals and vaccinations in cases where “you are having trouble finding a timely, affordable option elsewhere.” For more information, contact the Health Department at (203) 854-7776.

“Appointments are limited, and priority is given to Norwalk residents,” the city’s website says.

Other ways to help prevent common illnesses include making sure your child keeps a regular sleep schedule, wears comfortable and seasonally-appropriate clothing.

Experts also recommend keeping open lines of communication with your children, so that they feel comfortable telling you about health problems, bullying and other issues.

For parents of kid with specific health issues, the group recommends meeting with nurses at the beginning of the school year to introduce yourself and your child. At the meeting you can go over specific plans for managing your child’s issues, give permission to contact a child’s doctor and offer channels to reach you in case of emergencies.

“Parents should talk to their school nurse and be involved in their child’s health and wellness at school,” said NASN President, Linda Davis-Alldritt. “Every child deserves a school nurse every day, all day. And every parent deserves to feel their child’s safety and wellbeing are a school’s top priority.”

Dr. Michael Marks, President of Norwalk Hospital Physicians and Surgeons, also shared some tips for avoiding back problems. Mack, who is also spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, says that most problems caused by backpacks come from “improper wearing and packing of the pack.”

“The best way to prevent injuries is to ‘pack it right, wear it right,’ Marks says.

For example, he suggests making sure kids wear packs on both shoulders, with the straps tight against the back to prevent bruising from bumping during movement.

Parents should also make sure that younger kids are not wearing packs designed for older kids, with loads that may be too heavy. He also recommends kids carrying just what they need in their backpacks, to avoid over-packing.

Marks also advises against wheeled backpacks, which “seem to have created even more problems than traditional backpacks,” he says. The bulkier, stiffer bags are heavier for kids to lift, and there are not always ramps for the wheels to use. Children also can trip on the bags in crowded hallways.

“It puts more stress on the low back to have your body slightly turned and dragging something behind you,” Marks says. “Ask any traveler through airports.”

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