You finally bought the last few school supplies, signed all the forms for the new year, and made it through a week of packing lunches. Now you’re facing the first round of runny noses, cruddy coughs, and upset stomachs. It’s the start of the back-to-school germ fest. The good news is there are ways to boost your child’s immune system and lower the risk of catching an illness. Follow these handy tips to keep your kids healthy at school. Hands Off Teach your children to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth when possible. Keeping hands that have encountered hundreds of germs away from these areas can reduce the chances of viruses or bacteria entering the body. You can also show them how to prevent spreading their own germs by covering a cough or sneeze with their elbow instead of their hand. Soap Up Handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent illness, but in order to be effective it means getting soap between the fingers and on top of the hands in addition to the palms. Have your children sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice while washing and before starting to rinse. Don’t Skimp on Sleep Getting adequate sleep is one of the best things both adults and children can do to keep the immune system in tip-top shape. Children ages 6 to 12 need 9 to 12 hours of sleep per night and teens need 8 to 10 hours per night. Focus on Fruits and Vegetables The vitamins in fruits and vegetables are important to staying healthy, and Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the length of cold symptoms. In addition, children should drink plenty of water, avoid sugary drinks and snacks, and get adequate protein. If you’re crunched for time, look for snack-size baby carrot packages, bananas, oranges, and pre-cut fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. Get Moving Exercise has also been proven to boost the immune system. If your children are not getting in 30 to 40 minutes of exercise per day at school, try some fun family activities after school or right before dinner in the evening. Consider a game of hide-and-go-seek or an energized Simon Says with jumping jacks, marching, and other high-energy moves. Convenient Care for Sick Children Despite the best efforts to avoid germs, all children get sick occasionally. There’s a convenient way to get care from a board-certified doctor, even at night and on the weekend. Video and phone visits are available 24/7 with Cone Health Connected Care. After an easy online registration process, you can request an appointment at any time and be connected with a physician within 15 minutes. The doctor will review your child’s health history, discuss symptoms, and recommend a treatment to meet your child’s individual needs. You can register at any time so you’ll be ready to request an online appointment the next time your little one is sick.