Greenville, S.C. (WSPA)- Children across our area are headed back to the classroom.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, 7News Anchor Taylor Murray spoke with a nurse practitioner about protecting your children from some of the common illnesses that spread at school.

It’s time for setting alarms, packing lunches, school bus rides or waiting in the car line, school sports, activities, field trips, and more.

But, in the hustle and bustle of back-to-school, don’t forget to keep an eye on your child’s health as they transition back to being around other children.

“Going back to school now puts the child at risk for a number of different infections that they weren’t as exposed to when they were at home during the summer.”

Stephanie Buhr, Nurse Practioner, Bon Secours St. Francis

Stephanie Buhr, a nurse practitioner, says it’s entirely normal for a child to have six to eight infections during the school year.

There are some common illnesses that tend to spread at school.

“It is something that we expect as healthcare providers, to see an uptick. It is normal to see more respiratory illnesses rather that be the flu or covid, just common colds, or upper respiratory infections. Stomach bugs, viruses or rashes, like lice, and other contagious rashes, as well, increase,” Buhr said.

Buhr says most of these are very contagious.

“Especially for the younger children, elementary-aged, or preschool since they usually don’t have as many boundaries with their personal space,” Buhr said.

She says it’s important to encourage your child to practice healthy habits to prevent the spread.

“Making sure they wash their hands, regularly, before they’re eating or if they are exposed to anything that you’re concerned about… those are good times. Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol in it. Then, in the home…. cleaning high-touch surface areas and keeping those sanitized as well,” Buhr said.

Buhr says staying up-to-date on vaccinations can also keep your child from getting sick this school year.

“If you feel like your child is missing any or that they’re behind on any, consult with your pediatrician and make a plan so they can go ahead and catch up on their vaccines,” Buhr said.

Most importantly, if your child is sick, keep them home.

Buhr says college-aged students, returning to dorm life, are at risk for the same common illnesses as younger children. However, they are at a higher risk for mono & sexually transmitted infections.

Click here to submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series.