Kids are in close quarters once again. And it just takes one sick student to spread a virus throughout the classroom.

Vania Carter is an advanced practice registered nurse with Saint Mary's Medical Group. 

If you have a question, call 858-2222 between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

1)  WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO AVOID CATCHING GERMS?

According to Mayo Clinic, the most effective way to avoid spreading or catching germs is hand washing. Encourage kids to sing the alphabet song or "Happy Birthday to You" from start to finish as they wash the fronts and backs of their hands and in-between fingers. Simple soap and water is best, but hand sanitizers will do when soap and water aren't available.  Remind your children to always cough or sneeze into the crooks of their elbows or into their sleeves.

2)  HOW MUCH SLEEP SHOULD KIDS BE GETTING A NIGHT?

The optimal amount of sleep for most younger children is 10-12 hours per night and for 13-18 year old students the range of 8-10 hours per night.

Getting enough sleep is critical for a child to be successful in school. Children who do not get enough sleep have difficulty concentrating and learning as well as they can.  Set a consistent bedtime for your child and stick with it every night. Having a bedtime routine that is consistent will help your child settle down and fall asleep. Components of a calming pre-bedtime routine may involve a bath/shower, reading with them, and tucking them in and saying good-night to them. Have your child turn off electronic devices well before bedtime. 

3)  WHAT ARE THE BEST BRAIN FOOD FOR KIDS?

Eat breakfast! Eggs with whole grain toast, fruit and yogurt, or whole grain unsweetened cereal with milk and berries are several great choices. Nutritionists recommend starting the day with a meal consisting of protein and fiber. The American Heart Association adds children and teens ages 2-18 limit added sugar to no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day. Experts also suggest children and teens consume no more than 8 ounces of sugary drinks a week. Sugary drinks, often called "liquid calories," provide no health benefits.

4)  IS IT TOO EARLY TO GET A FLU VACCINE?

CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. However, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial. CDC recommends ongoing flu vaccination as long as influenza viruses are circulating, even into January or later