Back to school A-B-Cs

School starts soon and that means it’s time to make sure you brush up on your A-B-Cs!  Island Health is encouraging parents and guardians to take some simple steps to ensure a healthy start to the school year. 

Avoid spreading and catching germs 

Back to school can mean back to bugs and germs!  One of the best ways to avoid getting sick with common illnesses, including colds and flus, is proper hand washing. Soap and water is best, but hand sanitizers are a good option when soap isn’t available. 

Children should always wash their hands before and after eating, after every trip to the bathroom, after gym class, playing outdoors, playing with pets and as soon as they get home.  Parents and guardians should help young children wash their hands to ensure it is done well and to teach them how to do it properly.

Proper hand hygiene tips are on our website: 

Remember, many diseases are preventable!  Make sure your children are up-to-date on their immunizations.  

Boost nutrition 

It is important for children to eat well in order to fuel their brain and their body.  Packing healthy, nutritious and interesting snacks and lunches gives kids the energy and nutrients including the vitamins and minerals they need to support their learning and activity throughout the day.  Don’t forget to send a water bottle for hydration and provide your child with a healthy range of foods following recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide.

Healthy lunch and snacks options: 

  • Lean protein (chicken, fish, eggs, lentils, hummus, nuts and seeds).  In classrooms where there are peanut allergies, spreads like WOWBUTTER® or SunButter® are good substitutes for peanut butter)
  • Single-serving lower-fat milk, plain yogurt and cheese 
  • Fresh fruit – think lots of colour!
  • Crunchy vegetables and dip if it makes the veggies more appealing
  • Granola bars or power cookies
  • Whole grain foods like bread, crackers, tortilla, naan or mini pitas
  • Send healthy leftovers in an insulated thermos and remember to include an icepack for cold items

Create a safe environment
As children become more independent, they need to learn how to keep themselves safe and avoid serious injury.  

Teach ways to avoid risky situations and make sure rules are clear and consistent:

  • Identify the safest walking and/or cycling routes to and from school and travel in groups, that way children are move visible to motorists. 
  • If you drive, make sure everyone wears a seat belt and obey the school speed zones. 
  • Ensure your child always wears a helmet when on wheels, including biking, rollerblading, or skateboarding – and lead by example. 
  • Protect your child’s teeth during sports with a mouth guard.
  • Create an open dialogue about safety risks and teach children how to make safe choices.
  • Many serious home accidents can be prevented: 
  • Find out how to make your house a safe place for school-aged children.
  • Keep a close eye on children; school-aged children still need supervision. 
  • Provide your child with lessons and training, including swimming lessons, first aid basics and outdoor education. 

Remember to keep danger and safety in perspective.  Your child needs opportunities to practice independence, assess risks and make safe decisions.  

Find more information about school-aged safety visit:

Besides the ABCs, more healthy back to school tips are available on our Healthy Schools webpage


About Island Health:
Island Health provides health care and support services to more than 800,000 people on Vancouver Island, the islands in the Salish Sea and the Johnstone Strait, and mainland communities north of Powell River. With more than 22,000 staff and over 2,000 physician partners, 6,000 volunteers, and the dedicated support of foundations and auxiliaries, Island Health delivers a broad range of health services, including: Public health services, primary health care, home and community care, mental health and addictions services, acute care in hospitals, and much more across a huge, geographically diverse region.


Central/North Island media inquiries:
Dominic Abassi

Cowichan/South Island media inquiries:
Cheryl Bloxham