The cooler months are here and acute respiratory infections (ARIs), including the common cold, flu and COVID-19, are circulating in our communities.
An ARI is highly contagious and can spread very easily from person to person, particularly in children, through infected droplets from the mouth and nose.
While most people recover from an ARI in about a week, for some, it can lead to serious health problems and sometimes even death.
The common cold is usually harmless, however, sometimes after recovering from one illness, a child may get sick with a new and different virus, so it can seem like they are ‘always sick’.
You can help stop the spread of germs at your service by following practical tips from Queensland Health, such as practising good hygiene, staying home if unwell and physical distancing.
Tips for a healthy service
- Discourage staff from coming in to work if they are unwell and ask families to keep sick children at home. This will protect others.
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Teach children how to correctly wash their hands.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your arm, throw used tissues into the bin and clean your hands afterwards. Children will learn from your example.
- When the risk of infection from ARIs is increased, choosing to wear a mask in crowded areas will lower your risk.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, tapware, tabletops, remote controls, mobile devices (e.g., phones, laptops etc.), benchtops and fridge doors, and wash your hands after cleaning.
- Ensure good ventilation by opening windows and doors and getting plenty of fresh air outside each day.
- Help build your immunity to protect yourself against disease by getting vaccinated.
- Become familiar with your service’s procedure for managing illness and the reasonable steps you should take to prevent and control the spread of infection.
- Review procedures and practices for effective handwashing, cough and sneezing etiquette, hygiene and cleaning routines, and appropriate exclusions of unwell children, educators and staff.
Resources for families
Illness in early learning services on the Starting Blocks website explains the reason children may become ill while attending the service and why a child may be excluded from care when ill.
- National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC)
Staying Healthy has resources on infection control, including the breaking the chain of infection.
- Queensland Health's
Time Out resource (PDF, 922KB) explains infectious diseases and exclusion periods in early childhood settings.
Resources for staff