School nurse offers tips to keep students healthy

With the cold, autumn and winter weather Homer has begun to experience, also comes illnesses such as the common cold, stomach bugs, hand, foot and mouth disease, and influenza, also known as the flu, according to Homer Middle School and Homer Flex school nurse Janette Latimer.

While a sneeze or two might not warrant keeping a child home from school — much to their disappointment — certain symptoms do point to a day in bed rather than a desk. Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s policy requires parents to keep children at home if they have the following symptoms:

• A temperature of 100.0 degrees or greater within the last 24 hours

• Vomiting within the last 24 hours

• Diarrhea in the last 24 hours

• Complaints of abdominal, or stomach, pain

• A severe cough

• A rash of unknown origin

“Remember that even if you think your child can “tough it out” at school, they are often contagious,” Latimer wrote in a letter to HMS parents. “Schools provide easy access for transmission of germs and viruses to both children and adults, some of whom may already have compromised immune systems.”

Latimer also recommends that students eat well and get adequate sleep, suggesting a minimum of nine hours each night, to stay healthy throughout the school year.

Parents who wish to vaccinate their child against illnesses such as the flu can find a solution in several places in the community, Latimer said. Homer Public Health Center provides care on a sliding scale and does not bill insurance, though they do accept Medicaid. No one is refused service for inability to pay.

Safeway and Scotts Family Pharmacy both have flu vaccinations, as do private providers such as Homer Medical Clinic, Kachemak Bay Medical Clinic, and Seldovia Village Tribe (SVT) Clinic, Latimer said.

Anna Frost can be reached at