Infection Control at School
If your child is receiving chemotherapy, avoiding exposure to communicable diseases is very important.
The need to avoid infection exposure continues for some time after therapy, depending on the treatment received. Explain this clearly to the teachers, and develop a plan to minimize your child’s risks of infection.
Prevention is better than cure, but prompt treatment is vital following suspected exposure to infection or when your child has symptoms.
Ask the teacher to immediately report any illness in the school or anything that is unusual for your child, even if it seems trivial.
Remind the teachers that frequent, thorough hand washing is the best way to prevent spread of infection. Ask that your child use liquid soap, baby wipes or antibacterial gel rather than a bar, and make sure your child knows how to wash her hands.
Ask the teacher to ensure that everyone (adults and children alike) washes hands before handling food, after working or playing outside, and after using the bathroom or touching an animal. Explain the importance in protecting your child during treatment, to avoid misunderstandings.
Skin Care and First Aid
Insist that the teacher apply sunscreen on your child’s exposed skin, or ensure she does so herself before going outside on sunny days. Chemotherapy can make children sun sensitive, and sunburn is a potential site for infection.
Ask the teacher or school nurse to wash all small cuts or grazes with soap and water, then rinse with hydrogen peroxide and cover with a clean dressing.
Make sure the teachers understand they must call you immediately if your child develops a temperature. Explain that they must not give your child aspirin, Motrin, or ibuprofen as they may reduce your child’s ability to clot blood.
Explain about the particular dangers of chicken pox, chicken pox, shingles, mumps and measles while your child has a reduced immune system. The teachers and school nurse should work with you to develop an early alert plan to use when there is an outbreak of a contagious disease.
Ensure that the teachers notify you immediately if your child is exposed to chicken pox so the doctors can give appropriate preventative treatment. Exposure occurs if your child comes into direct contact with an affected person or stays in a presumably contaminated room for ten minutes or more.
Below are some suggestions of how to ensure you are promptly notified of potentially serious illness among your child’s classmates.
- Ask if there is an established infectious disease notification strategy, and I so, how it works.
- Ask your child’s teacher to notify you of all contagious illness among classmates.
- Ask the receptionist or secretary to notify you when parents call to say their child is absent due to a contagious illness such as chicken pox.
- Ask the school to notify all parents in writing and ask for their help. You can download the letter below and adapt it for your child.