As the start of the year approaches, many students will be returning to school for their spring semesters. However, many common health problems could keep many students and their parents sick at home.
Cold Weather Worsening Health
While it’s common knowledge that cold weather can worsen overall health, the number of health problems made more pronounced by cold weather can be shocking. Cold weather can make children more susceptible to colds and the flu, meaning that more children are likely to miss school due to cold weather-related illness.
However, it’s not just common infections that are made more worrisome by winter. Many common chronic and non-infectious illnesses are exacerbated during the winter months. Everything from asthma to joint pain can be worsened in winter as a result of the cold weather. About 80% of adults will experience low back pain at some point in their life, and cold weather can worsen back and joint pain in children as well.
There are even some theories that winter could lead to the development of additional health problems in the form of weight gain. Reduced sunlight and shorter days during winter months can reduce the amount of vitamin D that people, especially children, are exposed to. A lack of vitamin D is thought to reduce fat breakdown and trigger fat storage, leading to an average weight gain of two to four pounds each year in autumn and winter. Additionally, winter holidays can contribute to weight gain, as many traditional holiday foods tend to be fairly unhealthy. This weight gain, if left unchecked, could lead to additional complications.
What This Means For Schools
When many children and adults alike are likely to be suffering from various worsened health states in the winter, schools are fairly likely to see a reduced attendance during the winter months. This is combined with the existing affect illness has on general attendance rates throughout the year, with certain illnesses or conditions having a surprising effect on student attendance rates. The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools warns that 51 million school hours are lost each year due to a dental-related illness alone.
For schools everywhere, winter is likely to cause attendance issues that could significantly affect how classes are run. This is particularly true for smaller schools, either rural public schools or private schools with small student populations. 87 percent of private schools have fewer than 300 students, and in these schools, wintertime illness has the potential to cause a noticeable drop in attendance and even have students fall behind in classes.
How To Protect Yourself And Your Children
While winter may make illness more common and often worse than it would be in summer or spring months, there are still many ways to protect yourself and your children. Standard precautions and protections against infectious illness, such as washing your hands and visiting your family doctor for regular check-ups, can help you avoid many types of illness. Additionally, taking the cold weather into account for daily routine can help. Make sure that when you or your children leave the house that you’re appropriately prepared for the cold weather; wear additional layers and keep clothes dry to help guard against the cold, often dry air of the winter. Being prepared can help you and your children remain healthy and keep your kids in school, despite the heightened risk of illness during the first few months of the new year.