How Preschool Teachers Stay Healthy This Time of Year
They've got the strongest immune systems in the game.
Children are delightful, sure, but they are also practically Petri dishes of infection this time of year. Their baby immune systems haven’t encountered enough germs to build up virus-fighting white blood cells, so they pick up all kinds of illnesses and pass them around to one another constantly. If you’re a parent, you already know you’re in for it every time cold and flu season comes around, and you’ve probably already wondered how preschool teachers don’t get sick as often as you do. After all, the most at-risk population, other than kids themselves, is probably the people who spend eight hours, five days a week in close quarters with them.
If you want to stay healthy in the midst of the sickest time of year, you can learn a thing or two from childcare providers — they work at ground zero for germs and can not afford to get sick all the time. In other words: They have to have the strongest immune systems in the game. So, we thought we'd ask them how they get that way.
Ahead, 14 preschool teachers share how they keep themselves from getting sick all winter.
Miss Vicky, a preschool teacher of more than 40 years
“As a preschool teacher, I always have the risk of catching every germ that the children bring in to the classroom to share. To help prevent myself from getting sick I constantly wash my hands and remind the children to wash theirs. I also take vitamin C and stay hydrated, which has prevented me from getting sick as much as I used to. When I can spend my day giving hugs for boo-boos and hurt feelings I consider getting sick the only negative about the job.”
Josefina, a preschool teacher in Newark, NJ for 5 years
“Flu shot is a given. And I wash my hands 20 times a day at least. If I change schools, I usually get sick by November, but once I’m in the school for a year or more I’m less likely to get sick. My doctor thinks it’s because my body is used to the germs.”
Lori, a preschool teacher of 25 years in Katy, TX
“I always make sure to get plenty of rest, eat well, and spray Lysol to disinfect my classroom. And I encourage my students to wash their hands, stay home if they’re not feeling well, cover their mouths and nose with their cape (elbow), use hand sanitizer, and rest.”
Jen, a preschool teacher of 20 years in Maple Valley, WA
“I always attempt to get enough sleep, drink more water, and do a daily dose of elderberry syrup (several doses if I am around a sick kiddo). I also disinfect toys once a week with a vinegar and water solution (I try to stay away from harsh bleach/water solution unless there’s a really bad virus going around).
"When cold and flu season comes around, my kids and I talk about how germs are something we don't share, and that includes keeping their fingers out of their nose. We wash hands with On Guard hand soap (a gentle soap made with essential oils and cleared by all the parents), and then they use a clean hand towel (from the clean basket) to dry their hands, and then put it in the dirty basket. I wash those hand towels daily on the sanitize cycle.”
Immune-boosting Foods and Vitamins
Monica Cruz, one year teaching preschool in Reading, PA
“I swear by orange juice! I drink at least 8 to 12 ounces a day. I also constantly wash my hands throughout the day, and our students wash their hands often, especially before and after meals, when entering the classroom, and after blowing their noses.”
Tom Hobson, a preschool teacher of more than 18 years in Seattle, WA
“The main way I avoid getting sick is to have taught preschool for a couple decades — my immune system is quite strong. I’m also an advocate for garlic-ginger chicken soup, a shot of brown liquor (in the evening), and [an herbal supplement] called Wellness Formula.”
Courtney, 16 years teaching preschool in New Hampshire
“I take vitamin C daily (I put it in my water), elderberry syrup or gummies every day, and I clean with tea tree oil. I also go through a million bottles of hand sanitizer and vitamin D. We aren’t allowed to give students hand sanitizer, but I definitely have them wash their hands more frequently during cold and flu season.”
Patti, a preschool teacher of 15 years in Hammond, Indiana
“Every year, I make sure to get a flu shot, and try not to touch my hands to my face. I take Airborne and probiotics. I have my kids wash their hands and teach them to sneeze into their elbows. During cold and flu season, I teach a lesson where I use a squirt bottle named Matilda to show students that if you don’t cover your mouth when you sneeze, you ‘spray.’”
Brianna, a preschool teacher in Massachusetts for two years
“When cold and flu season starts, I go to get my flu shot, I take more vitamins, and I use elderberry syrup. I also try to eat well all the time to keep my immune system strong. And I ask my students to cover their coughs, wash their hands well, and keep their hands out of their mouths and noses.”
Michelle Mattaliano, a preschool teacher of 26 years in Jersey City, NJ
“I get my flu shot, sanitize and wash my hands like crazy, and spray Lysol or the like on everything in the room on a regular basis. Then, I teach my kids to ‘catch’ their cough or sneeze in their elbow. (We even have a cute little chant).”
Ms. B, a preschool teacher of eight years in Tarzana, California
“I always get a flu shot and try to keep my hands away from my face, since I can’t wash them every second of the day. I keep an eye and nose on children entering the class for signs of illness or if they smell like they just took medication or had vomited. Sleep is so important and I think that’s where I fail. As a busy working mom, I hardly get enough sleep.”
Rudy, 10 years teaching in Mays Landing, NJ
“I do get my flu shot, but I also have the mentality that I have been exposed to so much for so long my immune system is super strong. Knock on wood, but I don’t get sick often, if at all.”
Amy D., 30 years teaching preschool in East Hanover, New Jersey
“My hands and fingers never touch my face. I use my wrist or arm, instead. And I make sure to go to bed early and always avoid wearing the clothing I wore to work into my house for too long. I teach my students to wash their hands all year ‘round, and tell parents that the cold air does not make them sick, germs do. So make sure your kids get outdoors a bit to air themselves out!”
Kelly, a preschool teacher of four years in New Jersey
“I like to keep the windows in my classroom open the smallest bit to keep fresh air in, and I’m constantly Lysoling everything.”
Instead of self-care, let's talk about self-maintenance. This month, we're focusing on whatever it takes to get by.