Expert Care by ER Physicians

5 Common Classroom Colds and Viruses

Posted by The Urgency Room on Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Keywords: colds viruses

When the cold season strikes, classrooms are often hit hard. In school, kids are always in contact with each other, and are prone to spreading germs to commonly used items. Shared classroom materials, computers, recess equipment, door knobs, desks, and common surfaces such as lunch rooms and bathrooms are all hotspots for spreading contaminated germs, which will result in your child coming home sick.

What should parents do to combat classroom colds and viruses from spreading to their children and the rest of their family? This post will serve as an overview of some of the common colds and viruses your children will be exposed to in the classroom, and provide you with some tips for keeping your kids healthy.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Conjunctivitis, more commonly called pink eye, is a highly contagious eye infection that is spread through hand-to-eye contact. Pink eye is very common among children as schools provides a number opportunities for spreading. The infection can be caused both by bacteria and viruses. Symptoms of pink eye include:

  • Red Eyes
  • Tearing
  • Yellow Discharge
  • Itchy Eyes
  • Blurred Vision
  • Burning Eyes
  • Increased Sensitivity to Light
  • Drainage that seals the eyes shut


Colds are viral infections that affect the upper respiratory system. Many different viruses cause the common cold.  Cold viruses are very contagious and are spread through touching other people or surfaces that have the cold virus and then touching your own face, nose or mouth.    When someone is exposed to a cold, they can pass it along both before their symptoms appear and after. Colds are quite contagious, especially in schools.

Cold are especially common during winter, which is often referred to as cold season. Symptoms of a cold include:

  • Sinus Congestion
  • Itching Eyes
  • Runny Nose
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue
  • Chest Congestion
  • Coughing
  • Headaches
  • Slight Fever

Strep Throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that attacks the upper portion of your throat and tonsils. While it does affect adults occasionally, strep throat is more common in children. Untreated strep throat can result in complications such as worsening infection or heart problems therefore it is important for parents to know when to have their child tested.

Because sore throats can be causes by viruses and bacteria, testing is required to diagnose strep throat. If your child has a sore throat see a doctor to have a throat swab performed to determine the cause of the sore throat.

Strep throat symptoms include:

  • Aching Throat
  • Painful to Swallow
  • Red and Swollen Tonsils
  • Red, Rash-like Spots in Rear of Mouth
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Body Aches


Influenza, commonly called “the flu”, is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system. There are three broad strains of influenza, categorized by A, B, and C. Influenza and the common cold share many symptoms but influenza tends to be more severe. Influenza often causes higher fevers, more severe body aches and lasts longer, even lasting up to 10 days.  Influenza is very contagious and is spread through the air.   Due to the high risk of infection at schools, most schools and physicians advise parents to give their kids flu shots to lower the chances of contracting the virus.

Symptoms of influenza include:

  • Mid-to-High Fever
  • Body Aches
  • Fatigue
  • Sore Throat
  • Headaches
  • Cough
  • Chills and Sweats
  • Sinus Congestion
  • Runny Nose
  • Chest Congestion
  • Vomiting


Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes. Bronchial tubes are tasked with carrying air into and out of your lungs.  Bronchitis can be caused by either viruses or bacteria, though virus are much more common.  Bronchitis, this ongoing inflammation, often happens after an illness such as a cold.  You may notice that the cold symptoms are not going away as quickly as you would usually expect.

Some of the symptoms to keep an eye out for in your child include:

  • Persistent Cough
  • Mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Slow Recovery from Cold
  • Fever and Chills
  • Chest Discomfort

Keeping Your Kids Healthy

With all of these contagious infections and viruses commonly being passed around at school, it can be difficult to arm your child’s defenses. What are parents to do? For starters, do your best to impart to importance of washing your hands to your children. It may seem like an obvious tip, but washing your hands regularly will kill germs and lower the chances of contracting an illness. Most of the contagious illnesses that spread in classrooms that we discuss on this list are passed directly from child to child by hand contact.

For example, a child that is contagious sneezes in their hand then goes to sharpen a pencil in the classroom pencil sharpener. Doing so, the child deposits sickly bacteria on the sharpener, only for the next healthy student to use the sharpener to attract the bacteria, and eventually get sick. Hand washing after the sneeze, or after the use of the sharpener by the second child, would likely prevent the second child of getting sick.

Avoiding germs outright is nearly impossible. However, parents can be active with their children’s schools in trying to bolster defenses in the classroom. Having students wipe down keyboards and equipment after use, encouraging regular hand washing, avoiding sharing equipment when possible, and encouraging flu vaccinations are all ways to combat the spread of illnesses.

Urgency Room Child Care

Whether you need to have your child tested for influenza, or see if they have bronchitis  The Urgency Room is the perfect place to get your child the care they need. Bringing your children in for medical attention is rarely convenient for parents. Time spent in waiting rooms and doctor’s rooms is time spent away from work for you, and school for your child. At The Urgency Room, we appreciate your time. That’s why we place an emphasis on getting our patients medical attention as quickly as possible. And our wait times are usually under 15 minutes! You can check out live waiting room times at each location here. That way you won’t be surprised upon arrival.

With convenient locations situated off of major highways running through the Twin Cities, coming to our Woodbury, Vadnais Heights or Eagan locations is an easy trip. By coming to The Urgency Room, you won’t have to sit in the waiting room as your child’s symptoms worsen.

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