Back-To-School Tips For Heart Kids (Part 1): Staying Healthy In The Classroom

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Sending your heart kid back to school for the first time after transplant can be both exciting and stressful.

It can be exciting for parents to see their child returning to normal kid activities. But it can also be stressful because many parents also fear their child getting sick.

Here are 5 back-to-school tips to help keep heart kids healthy in the classroom.

1. Work With The School Nurse.

I always recommend that parents get to know their child’s school nurse—or whoever is in that role if there is no on-site nurse.

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For example, if your child’s usual heart rate is 120 beats per minute, ask the nurse to let you know right away if he shows up with a vastly different heart rate or any other worrisome symptoms.

2. Communicate With The Staff.

You should also talk to the school’s office staff and classroom teachers, especially if your child is fresh from her transplant. Give them the overall gist of who your child is.

If this isn’t something you feel comfortable explaining, a member of your child’s care team may be able to help.

I’ve done conference calls and in-person meetings with school staff where we discuss the child’s condition as well as different signs and symptoms of health issues that they should look out for.

I also encourage parents to talk to their child’s PE teacher about any physical limitations.

So, you might say, “My child had a heart transplant. He may not be able to keep up with the other kids, but that doesn’t mean he can’t participate. Please make sure that you give him enough time to warm up and cool down.”

Also read: Can Kids With Heart Transplant Exercise And Play Sports?

3. Make A Manageable Medication Schedule.

Usually, once a kiddo is far enough out post-transplant, the medication schedule can be manipulated so that he doesn’t have to interrupt his school day to go to the nurse’s office for medication.

Talk to your child’s medical team to see if he can take his meds before school, after school, and at bedtime.

4. Stay Flu-Savvy.

As flu season approaches, heart kids should get their flu shots. I recommend that all of their close contacts get vaccinated as well.

It doesn’t matter if their classmates get the live nasal spray vaccination, but transplant kids cannot have that live vaccine themselves.

Also read: What Should You Do If Your Heart Kid Gets The Seasonal Flu?

5. Encourage Good Hand Washing.

Hand washing is an obvious and easy way to help prevent the spread of germs.

I usually recommend that my heart kids also bring some hand sanitizer with them to school. In addition to having a small bottle for themselves, they may also want to bring a big bottle for the classroom.

Ask the teacher if your heart kid can leave the bottle at the front for classmates to use, because not every classroom has a sink in it.

I think it’s important for parents to remember that most kids are bound to get sick at school simply because they’re going to be exposed to germs.

You can’t 100% prevent the possibility of your child getting sick. But you can take simple steps to reduce that risk.

Barb Roessner

Hi, I'm Barb, and I'm a Physician Assistant and coordinator of the Heart Failure and Transplant Program at Children's Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha. I work with patients and families at every step of the journey, from diagnosing their child's heart condition to my favorite part—calling them to say "We have a heart."

3 Responses to "Back-To-School Tips For Heart Kids (Part 1): Staying Healthy In The Classroom"

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  1. Pingback: Back-To-School Tips For Heart Kids (Part 2): Packing College Essentials - smallbeats

  2. Michelle Tracy

    July 11, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    The school nurse has to know everything about your kid’s condition so she can better monitor him and prevent unwanted incidents. His colleagues should also be informed about his condition, they’re the ones that he spends most of his time with.

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  3. Pingback: How To Help Heart Kids Keep Up When They Have To Miss School - smallbeats

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