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NEA News

Build Healthy Habits for a Healthy Year

These tips for self-care and classroom cleanup can help you stay healthy during flu season.

The second half of the year is heating up like the school’s boiler room. If you’re lucky,  you’ve made it this far without getting knocked out by the fl u. But staying healthy often takes more than luck. Julie Rooney, a retired school nurse who has weathered her share of cold and flu seasons, shares a few time-tested, commonsense tips for staying healthy and strong.

Get Moving!

Science shows that staying active helps boost the immune system.  Just 10- to 15-minutes of exercise a couple of times a day  will do your body (and mind) some good. Try speed walking around the gym or join a colleague for a brisk stroll (or run!) around the track. Walk up and down the stairs a few times  or park a few blocks. Keeping your body in motion helps keep you healthy  —and that keeps the rest of your life moving forward as well.  

Eat well.

Balance your meals with veg-etables, protein, and healthy carbs. Brighten your plate with splashes of color—eat leafy greens, beets, blue-berries, and carrots or sweet potatoes. And cut down on sugar, which can throw off  your blood sugar levels, leave you feeling fatigued, and suppress your immunity.

Take a mental break.

Take time in your day to breathe, stretch, and find something to be grateful for. Smile even if nobody is there. Ample research shows positivity is good for your health.  


Refill a water bottle each morning and drink throughout the day.  Repeat, repeat, repeat. Try to drink at least two liters (or eight 8-ounce glasses) of water each day.

Wash your hands.

Use soap and water, and scrub from wrists to fingertips for as long as it takes you to sing "Happy Birthday" twice. Keep hand sanitizer at the ready, and use it after touching every-thing and anything you, your students, and anyone else touches. Teach your students to do the same—even high schoolers sometimes need reminding. Germs spread quickly, but staying vigilant can protect you as well as your students and colleagues.

Advocate for a school nurse.

Support school nurses to support the health of everyone in the building. A school nurse can address health complaints and medical emergencies. They are certified to dispense medications needed by students and staff. And they can offer excellent health education resources to staff  and students. 

Tips for a Cleaner Classroom

Contain the spread of germs by cleaning door handles, desktops, counters, sinks, and paper towel dispensers.

Keep tissues, hand sanitizer, and sanitizer wipes in classrooms for when students sneeze or cough.

Teachers should not be afraid to send ill students home. If you feel fluish, the same rule applies!

Ask what you and your students can do to help kill germs.

National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.