school illnesses

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Back to the Classroom: Staying Safe Starts With Awareness of School Illnesses

4 minute read

Germs of every kind run rampant in schools. But the presence of COVID-19 makes this topic of school illnesses more serious than usual. The close proximity, the shared supplies, the coughing, and the runny noses, and the constant physical contact (poking, tagging, high fiving, hugging), increase the spread of germs and illness.

The priority right now is keeping kids and families safe and healthy. That may look different around the country and for each family. If you have the opportunity for your kids to learn somewhere other than a crowded school, it may be the most responsible option to take.

Some families are turning to online tutors or even learning “pods” where kids rotate at-home instruction between select neighborhood houses. Of course, these alternatives require money and resources that may be difficult to come by for some families. But if at-home schooling is an option, it’s worth exploring.

Common School Illnesses

Here are just a few of the most common school illnesses that infect the classroom during a typical school year:

  • Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) – An extremely contagious inflammatory infection that is caused by bacteria getting in the eye. Kids should stay home until all the redness is gone from their eyes.
  • Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease – An untreatable virus that causes painful sores in the mouth and on hands and feet. It can also spread very quickly and kids should remain home until all their blisters have healed and their fever is gone.
  • Strep throat – Spreads like wildfire in a school environment and requires antibiotics for anyone infected.
  • Rhinovirus – Responsible for most cases of the common cold, this virus spreads rapidly among kids because when it’s “just a cold” they still go to school, daycare, or even friends’ houses. And there’s not much you can do for it except treat the symptoms.
  • Influenza – The start of the school year means the start of the flu season because the flu can spread with just a cough or a sneeze and can keep kids out of school for days or weeks at a time. The CDC reported that 185 children died from the flu during the 2017-2018 influenza season. So, while it is uncommon, it can also be a very serious illness.
  • COVID-19 – While this one is new to the list for 2020, it is by far the most concerning. While the early speculation was that this virus has little impact on young people, (there are questions about this), the larger issue is if kids pick up the virus and spread it to their relatives who are more prone to serious consequences. With no approved vaccine or drug treatment currently available, the threat of this illness should be top of mind when considering whether or not to send your kids back to school.

School Illness Prevention Steps

We really are living in a new normal. Because we’re months into the pandemic, there are some strategies identified by experts that can be effective in the fight against COVID-19. Below are some ways you can help keep everyone safe when children are back in any type of school environment. These tips can apply to school administrators as well as anyone taking part in homeschooling.

Wash hands often.

Of course, we tell kids to wash their hands so they don’t get sick, but their education on this subject could go a lot deeper. Read books about germs and how they spread, and incorporate activities that allow them to see what you’re talking about. Make sure they have lots of opportunities to wash their hands throughout the day, or that hand sanitizer is readily available in the classroom.

Avoid close contact and sharing of supplies.

Most classrooms won’t allow for each child to be six feet apart at all times, but try to maintain as much distance between students as possible throughout the school day to minimize contact. Tape on the floors and in the hallways will serve as good visual reminders for everyone to keep their distance.

Also, whenever possible, provide your child with their own set of supplies that they can keep at their desk so they are not sharing pencils, markers, rulers, etc. with other children. We always try to teach our children to be generous and that sharing is caring, but it has to be communicated that we aren’t sharing right now in order to stay safe and deter school illnesses.

Wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth when around others.

Some states have a mandatory mask order in place. As a parent, teacher, or administrator you can do a lot to make mask-wearing a positive experience for children.

Before your child heads back to school, have a mask decorating party. Pick their favorite color or design and let them make their mask personal.

Teachers and administrators can create themed masks, too, so that children are excited about what new mask designs they’ll see next.

Clean and Disinfect

Teachers can’t spend their entire day sanitizing every surface that has been touched. But doing things like handing out disinfectant wipes at the end of the day, or spraying down surfaces and letting kids wipe them down with disposable towels can be good ways to keep a healthy routine.

At home, spray or wipe down backpacks or any other supplies that are going back and forth to limit the amount of germs entering your home. It might be a good idea to create an area in the garage or entryway for your kids to hang their backpacks and put their shoes so they aren’t being dragged throughout the house.

Build Immunity

It’s so important to take good care of your body with good sleep, plenty of nutritious food, lots of water, and exercise. As summer winds down, try to get a good sleep routine for your kids back in place before the start of the year, and it might be a good idea to start limiting the all-day grazing of the kitchen that tends to happen when school is out.

Know when to stay home.

Monitoring your health daily is so important right now. If you or your child have any COVID-19 symptoms, please follow CDC guidelines.

Your school should have a plan in place to support any student or staff absences, school dismissals and/or closures.

reopening public schools

AA Homepage Articles | Family |

Reopening Public Schools Means Facing Air Quality Issues & HVAC Upgrades

2 minute read

Many reopening public schools throughout the country are making marked improvements to the air quality inside their buildings, but many still face an uphill battle. 

A US Government Accountability Office report from June 2020 found that four in 10 schools needed HVAC upgrades. As many schools start to reopen, teachers and board members are requiring improvements to their school’s Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). 

While many schools are still behind, one of the benefits of the lockdown is that public schools have been able to upgrade their old or inefficient HVAC systems helping reduce absences and improve productivity. 

IAQ Upgrades at Home

You can make IAQ improvements at home as well to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as your child returns to in-person schooling. You can have Aprilaire IAQ products installed in your home, including the Aprilaire Healthy Air System™, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 inside your home. Contact a Healthy Air Pro today to inquire about the benefits of Aprilaire products for your home. 

Reopening Public Schools In The News:

new year's resolutions

AA Homepage Articles | Family |

Healthy New Year’s Resolutions for the Whole Family

3 minute read

Making personal new year’s resolutions for the new year can be a great way to focus on what’s important to you. But sometimes those individual goals quickly fall away as the year goes on.

This year, how about you make goals for both you and your family? When your new year’s resolutions align with the rest of your family, the chances of seeing them through greatly improve because you’re working as a team and holding each other accountable.

Family New Year’s Resolutions

Start a Weekly Tradition

This could be a family movie night, a game night, or a repeated weekly meal like taco Tuesdays or homemade pizza every Friday. The point is having something to look forward to and rely on since family life can get pretty chaotic at times.

Get Outside More

We all need more fresh air. Whether it’s a family walk after dinner or bundling up to see who can make the biggest snowman, try to get outside as a family for at least thirty minutes every day when the weather allows.

Read Together

Read to, with, and around your kids. Help them become lovers of reading by incorporating it into your daily life. It could be an audiobook while getting dinner ready, bedtime stories with young kids, or shared reading time where the noise is kept to a minimum and everyone reads their own books.

Practice an Attitude of Gratitude

Gratefulness is an important practice, especially when it can be easy to forget after almost a year of mostly being stuck inside with the same group of people. Because 2020 was ripe for complaining and focusing on the bad, it’s time for a reset on gratitude.

This could be a daily practice of sharing or writing down something everyone is thankful for, or even thank you cards at the end of each month for family, neighbors, teachers, or anyone you want to appreciate.

Volunteer Together

Serving others is an amazing opportunity to strengthen your family and your community. There are so many ways to get involved, and it’s never too early to teach your kids a sense of responsibility, the benefit of sacrifice, and that they have the power to make a difference.

Cook and Eat Healthier Meals

We all want our kids to have healthy eating habits. The question is how do we do that?

One of the most common tips is to get kids involved in the shopping and preparing of the healthy foods we want them to eat. The more involvement they have, the more ownership they feel over making those choices for themselves. Here are some healthy family meals to try together.

Refresh your Emergency Plan

If your family doesn’t already have one, take some time in 2021 to create a family emergency plan. Restock your supplies and go over your evacuation and shelter drills to make sure you’ll be prepared and safe in case of the unexpected.

Plan a Monthly Adventure

We have lots of ideas of things we want to do as a family, but often those ideas get lost in the hustle and bustle of life. This year, sit down as a family and plan one trip, activity, or adventure for each month and put it on your calendar right away to up the chances of turning those ideas into fun experiences and treasured memories.

Commit to Less Screen Time

This goal is becoming increasingly important, and both parents and kids can benefit from screen time limits. The less time your family spends glued to a screen, the more time you have for face-to-face interactions and quality time together.

Breathe Healthy Air

When it comes to healthy living, diet, and exercise immediately come to mind. But don’t forget about the air you’re breathing in your home each and every day. The Aprilaire Healthy Air System™ can help your family reduce illness, eliminate pests, alleviate allergies, sleep better, lower stress levels, and even increase the value of your home and make it more energy-efficient. If that sounds like a goal worth investing in, contact an Aprilaire Pro today to get started on your Healthy Home journey for 2021.

AA Homepage Articles | News |

Experiencing the Fight For Air Climb

2 minute read

Before the Fight For Air Climb

Entering the US Bank Center for the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb was a rush of energy.

This seemed less like an arduous trek up 1,000 stairs and more of an indoor festival. There were volunteers ready to greet you and pump you up for the ensuing climb and people from different companies sitting at tables ready to hand out souvenirs.

They were probably also there to distract you after you just got done instinctively looking up toward the top of the 47-story US Bank Center in downtown Milwaukee becoming a little uneasy at the prospect of your journey upward.

Before you made your climb, you gathered as a team and took several escalators down to the basement level before getting warmed up with a quick aerobic routine. Then you took a long and winding tunnel where you greeted by more volunteers who were cheering you on. It was hard not to feel inspired and excited.

During the Fight For Air Climb

One-by-one people took off up toward the top of the US Bank Center to begin their Fight For Air Climb. I, like most, started off confidently and quickly. I took the first six flights easily, but then by flight eight, I began to fight for air. I now understand why they title this climb just that. My mind and my body were at odds. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to continue at the same pace to get it over with as quickly as possible or to slow down and feel better. I went with the former.

Everyone in the stairwell was trudging onward with the same dilemma. We all were gasping for air as we kept pushing up each step and each flight toward the top of the Fight For Air Climb. At several points, I wondered if I was actually making any progress.

Every 10 flights there was a group of volunteers handing out cups of water and words of encouragement. Both were sorely needed to help push me along.

With each passing flight, I kept a tally of how many flights I had left. Twenty flights down, 27 more flights to go; 30 flights down, 17 flights to go; Ok, 40 flights down, 7 to go. By the time I got to the 40th floor, I knew I could make the last push to make it to the top of my Fight For Air Climb journey.

After the Fight For Air Climb

Eventually, I reached the top after 9 minutes and 31 seconds. At the top of the stairwell, I was met by volunteers who were cheering me on and by other climbers who were also catching their breath and taking in the picturesque views of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan afforded to us by the tallest building in Wisconsin.

As I grabbed a water and walked around soaking in both the views of the city and my accomplishment, it was really cool to watch teams taking pictures together or greeting other climbers with high-fives and smiles. There was a certain camaraderie found in a common struggle.

Despite the lingering soreness, I cannot wait for next year’s climb. No matter if I beat my time from this year or not, it’s about fighting for air together and helping those impacted with lung disease.

To join an upcoming climb in a city near you, visit www.lung.org/aprilaire.

Healthy Air | News |

Aprilaire Partner Contractor Joins Fight For Air Climb

2 minute read

“What can you do or say when your family is suffering such losses? It’s devastating,” said Christopher Ciongoli, HVAC salesman/estimator with Aprilaire partner Whalen & Ives.

Chris is participating in the NYC American Lung Association Fight For Air Climb on April 4, 2020. When he heard that Aprilaire was the national Healthy Air sponsor of the event he signed on to the Aprilaire team.

“An opportunity to make difference just appeared to me on Jan 10th in an email from Aprilaire informing me about the Fight for Air Climb. This was it. This is how I would help make a difference and support my wife as well as so many others that are impacted by lung disease”.

Lung disease became an all too familiar fixture in Chris’s life last year when his brother-in-law, mother-in-law, and father-in-law all died from lung disease.

As of February 7, he’s raised 90 percent of his fundraising goal. Not only is Chris excited to help raise funds and awareness, he told us he’s already reaping the benefits of training for the 849-step climb.

“My blood pressure has dropped, my pants are getting loose, and my dog Crosby is getting back in shape too!”

Every morning he goes out with dog Crosby and strengthens his legs and increases his stamina to make sure he can make it to the 44th floor of the 1290 Avenue of Americas building in New York City.

Read more of Chris’s incredible journey by going to his page. Thank you for your efforts, Chris and we cannot wait to hear more.

For more information about the Fight For Air Climb and to find an event in your area, go to https://www.lung.org/aprilaire. To learn how to train for your own climb, head to our page where we share training tips to help you prepare for your own Fight For Air Climb.

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flights

AA Homepage Articles | News |

Experts Say Flights Can Resume, But Bring Increased Risks

2 minute read

Air quality experts say that it is safe to resume flying, but travelers must take advanced precautions before traveling like taking shorter flights when possible, wearing masks, and social distancing. 

In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Joseph Allen, an assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, makes the case that airplanes do not make you sick. In fact, airplanes have comparable levels of air filtration and fresh air ventilation to a health care facility

Flights May Be Less Comfortable With Recommendations

He argues that airlines should continue disinfecting high-touch areas such as armrests and tray tables, stop in-flight food service, mandate mask-wearing, and ask patrons to keep their above ventilation fan on throughout the flight. While these adjustments make flying less enjoyable, they can help reduce in-flight virus transmission. Masks are currently required on public transportation. 

Allen is not the only one saying it is safe to resume flying. 

‘Safer Than Eating At A Restaurant’

Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech, in a CNN article writes, “When HEPA ventilation systems are running on a plane and everyone is masked, the risk of Covid-19 is greatly reduced and makes air travel on a big jet safer than eating at a restaurant.”

Activities Create Biggest Risks

She and Allen argue that the biggest risks in airline travel stem from activities like the pre-flight boarding process or when a flight is delayed and people are stuck on the plane. Marr, who has been wearing an air quality monitor when she travels, said CO2 levels are elevated during these aforementioned activities and are indicative of a lack of fresh air ventilation. 

Marr told CNN that “A CO2 (carbon dioxide) level of 3,000 ppm means that for every breath I take in, about 7% of the air is other people’s exhaled breath…like drinking someone else’s backwash!”

The airport also presents other problems for travelers.

Allen suggests airports create more touchless experiences, upgrade their HVAC system, and require masks. Some updates have already been implemented in some airports or will be implemented in the future. 

Other experts suggest carrying your own personal hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and sticking to shorter flights

Even though there are risks to flying, Marr and Allen say you are clear for takeoff this summer