Health Guidelines from the RI Department of Health for Cold and Flu Season

During the cold and flu season, it is especially important for parents and students to adhere to these important health guidelines from the RI Department of Health and the Scituate School Department regarding respiratory illness and hand sanitization:

When to Keep your child Home Due to Respiratory Illness

Mild illnesses are very common during the school year; however, there are very few illnesses that mandate exclusion from participating in school. The case of a contagious respiratory infection is one of these illnesses. In cases of respiratory infection, children should stay home from school or childcare until the fever is gone and they feel well enough to attend.

Children with respiratory illnesses should be excluded from school when:

1. The illness' severity prevents the child from participating in school activities. 2. Fever -- temperature greater than 101 degrees orally, excessive sleepiness, difficulty breathing, persistent cough or other signs suggesting severe illness is present.

Given the recent identification of increased cases of respiratory illness, parents are urged to err on the side of caution when deciding to send their children to school when they are exhibiting signs of respiratory illness. If your child exhibits any of these symptoms at school, be prepared to have the school nurse contact you to take your child home. Parents should contact their own child's physician if they have specific questions regarding which illness a child has, whether their child fits the criteria for school exclusion, and management of any underlying or complicating situations.

Sources: The Pediatric Group (Princeton, NJ), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The American Academy of Pediatrics and the RI Department of Health

Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. It is best to wash your hand with soap and clean running water for 20 seconds. However, if soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based product to clean your hands. Alcohol-based hand rubs significantly reduce the number of germs on skin and are fast acting.

When washing hand with soap and water:

  1. Wet your hand with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.

  2. Rub hands together to make a later and scrub all surfaces, including the fingers.

  3. Continue rubbing hands for 20 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing "Happy Birthday" twice through to a friend!

  4. Rinse hands well under running water.

  5. Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.


Remember: If soap and water are not available, use alcohol=based gel to clean hands.

When using an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer:

1. apply products to the palm of one hand.

2. Rub hands together.

3. Rub the product over all surfaces of hands and fingers until hands are dry.

When should you wash your hands?

  • Before preparing or eating food;

  • after going to the bathroom;

  • after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has gone to the bathroom;

  • before and after tending to someone who is sick;

  • after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing;

  • after handling an animal or animal waste;

  • after handling garbage;

  • before and after treating a cut or wound.

In order to minimize the spread of infectious diseases among our schoolchildren, the HEALTH Director of the Commissioner of Education mandate that as soon as possible, hand-sanitizing gel and appropriate dispensers be placed in every classroom and all other rooms in which students may congregate, such as libraries and lunchrooms, in all public and nonpublic schools in Rhode island.
Effective: January 8, 2007

David R. Gifford, MD, MPH, RIDH Director 

Peter McWalters, RIDH Commissioner