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Class is In: Essential Tips before going back to school

It’s that time again! This is an exciting time of year for students and families. As students go back to school, it is important that parents and students recognize key health and safety information that will help ensure a great start to the school year.

This digital press kit will provide information on 9 key topics for this school year including tips and quotes from CDC experts to guarantee a safer and healthier year.

School Health: Teen HIV, STD, and Pregnancy Prevention

School-based programs play an important role in preventing HIV, STDs, and pregnancy. Schools, as well as parents, play an important role in helping young people take responsibility for their health, including HIV, STD, and pregnancy prevention. Standards-based, school health education should focus on both knowledge and skills development in a variety of topics, and should be supported by ongoing teacher training to assure excellent instruction. In addition, schools can help teens learn how to navigate the healthcare system by introducing them to clinical settings and making clinical care more readily available through school-based healthcare or referrals to community healthcare settings. Schools can create safe and supportive environments through policies and procedures that ensure safe physical environments and help students stay connected to the school through programs that emphasize inclusiveness. These approaches can help students adopt lifelong attitudes and behaviors that support overall health and well-being.

Stephanie Zaza, MD, MPH

Biography

Stephanie Zaza, MD, MPH

"Many teens engage in risky behaviors like unsafe sexual practices that can affect their health and academic performance. School health education, school-linked health services, and safe and supportive school environments can reduce these risk behaviors among young people and have a positive effect on academic achievement."

Stephanie Zaza, MD, MPH - CAPT, U.S. Public Health Service, Director, Division of Adolescent and School Health, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention

Tobacco

Problem: E-cigarettes and hookeahs are gaining popularity among students. It is important for parents to know that nicotine is dangerous for kids at any age, whether it’s an e-cigarette, hookah, cigarette, cigar, or smokeless tobacco. Nicotine exposure at a young age—even into young adulthood—may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction, and lead to continued tobacco use. The best way for parents to protect their children from smoking-related health problems is to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke and prevent tobacco use altogether. Parents can set a good example by not using tobacco and making their home and vehicle tobacco-free for everyone, including friends and family.

Brian King, PhD

Biography

Brian King, PhD

"Tobacco use starts primarily during adolescence. Nearly 9 out of 10 adult smokers first try cigarettes by age 18, while 96% first try cigarettes by 21. If your child is using tobacco, get support to help him or her quit right away. Youth use of tobacco in any form is unsafe, and preventing tobacco use among youth is critical to helping them live long and healthy lives."

Brian King, PhD - Acting Deputy Director for Research Translation, CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health

STDs

Youth bear a disproportionate share of STDs in the United States, as 15- to 24-year-olds account for 50% of the 20 million new STDs in the U.S. each year. With recent data showing about 1 in 3 high school students are sexually active, STD testing plays a vital role in protecting the health of our country’s youth. As a new school year approaches and many high-school or college aged individuals attend their annual check-up, a window of opportunity is open for teens and health care providers to talk openly to assess the need for STD testing and strategies to reduce risk.

Gail Bolan, MD

Biography

Gail Bolan, MD

"Sexually transmitted diseases affect people of all ages, yet these infections take a particularly heavy toll on young people."

"As we approach the new school year, doctors have an opportunity to engage their young patients in conversations about STD prevention and consider testing based on their sexual history. Likewise, young people need to feel empowered to protect their health by talking to their doctor about STD prevention and testing"

Gail Bolan, MD - Director, Division of STD Prevention

Bullying and Suicide

Bullying involvement and suicide-related behaviors among young people are closely related and preventable when schools and parents work together.

Involvement with bullying—including youth who bully others and those who are victims—can be associated with increased risk for suicide-related behaviors. Parents, school administrators, and teachers can use evidence-based recommendations to stop these health problems before they start.

Help young people feel connected to trusted adults and their school. Teach problem-solving skills early that focus on building resilience and accepting differences in others and themselves. Encourage prevention training for all school personnel who work with young people.  

James A. Mercy, PhD

Biography

James A. Mercy, PhD

"Tragic stories of a young person’s suicide death linked in some way to bullying are all too common. The good news is that there are evidence-based actions that can prevent future bullying while also saving lives. Teachers, administrators, and school staff have a vital role in improving understanding and motivating their community to stop these health problems early."

James A. Mercy, PhD - Director, Division of Violence Prevention

ADHD

ADHD ADHD is a common childhood condition that often persists into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention and/or controlling impulsive behaviors. Effective treatments for children 6 years of age and older with ADHD include medication, behavioral therapy, or a combination of the two. For children under 6, behavioral therapy should be used first, before trying medication. Parents, health professionals, psychologists, and educators can work together to ensure that children receive the best treatment available. Speak with your healthcare provider if you suspect your child may have ADHD.

Susanna Visser, MS, DrPH, MS

Biography

Susanna Visser, MS, DrPH, MS

"The number of U.S. households impacted by childhood diagnoses of ADHD is growing. When children diagnosed with ADHD receive proper treatment, they have the best chance of thriving at home, doing well at school, and making and keeping friends. CDC is committed to working with the medical and educational systems to make a difference in the lives of children with ADHD and their families today and into the future."

Susanna Visser, MS, DrPH, MS - Epidemiologist, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

Developmental Milestones

Skills such as cooperating with other children, naming colors and numbers and writing letters and numbers are called developmental milestones. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, act, and move (crawling, walking, etc.). As children head back to school, parents can familiarize themselves with developmental milestones and ask teachers to help them track progress.

Katie K. Green, MPH, CHES

Biography

Katie K. Green, MPH, CHES

"The most important thing for parents to do is track their child’s development and act quickly if there is a concern. Don’t wait. CDC has checklists to help parents track their child’s development. They are free and you can find them at www.cdc.gov/milestones."

"Tracking your child’s developmental milestones is a great way to ensure your child will be ready to learn in school. Find free milestone checklists for ages 2 months through 5 years at cdc.gov/Milestones. If you’re child isn’t meeting the milestones for his or her age, or you become worried about your child’s development at any time, talk with your doctor and share your concerns. Don’t wait. Getting early help for developmental problems may offer your child his or her best chance at success-- in school and in life!"

Katie K. Green, MPH, CHES - Health Communication Specialist, “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” Team, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

School Health: Obesity, nutrition, physical activity, physical education

As students go back to school this fall, it’s important that they eat healthy and stay active. Our children spend the vast majority of their day at school, so it’s a place that can have a big impact on all aspects of their lives. Schools can help students learn about the importance of eating healthier and being more physically active, which can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases. The health of students—what they eat and how much physical activity they get—is linked to their academic success. Early research is also starting to show that healthy school lunches may help to lower obesity rates. Young people aged 6-17 should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Health and academics are linked – so time spent for health is also time spent for learning.

Holly Hunt, MA

Biography

Holly Hunt, MA

"Schools are part of our communities and the right place for a healthy start. Schools can help by becoming places where students not only learn about the importance of eating healthier and being more physically active but, in fact, eat healthier and move more."

"The good news is, we know that prevention works. The health of students—what they eat and how much physical activity they get—is linked to their academic success."

Holly Hunt, MA - Chief, School Health Branch, CDC’s Division of Population Health

Handwashing

Regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. It's quick, it's simple, and it can keep us all from getting sick. Handwashing is a win for everyone, except the germs!

Anna Bowen, MD, MPH

"Keeping your hands clean is one of the best things you can do to keep from getting sick and to avoid spreading germs to others. Increasing handwashing in schools helps reduce the number of times students and staff get sick."

Anna Bowen, MD, MPH - Medical officer, Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch

Alcohol

What is the standard drink in the US Binge drinking increases the chances of car crashes, violence, suicide, alcohol poisoning, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies, and many other health problems. Despite these risks, one in six U.S. adults and one in five high school students’ binge drinks. States and communities can prevent binge drinking by supporting proven policies and programs.

Bob Brewer, MD, MSPH

Biography

Bob Brewer, MD, MSPH

"Binge drinking causes a wide range of health, social, and economic problems. Parents, schools, and communities need to work together to implement proven ways to reduce binge drinking, such as those recommended by the Community Guide."

Bob Brewer, MD, MSPH - Epidemiologist and lead of CDC’s Alcohol Program

Teen Pregnancy

Teens: If you are sexually active, protect yourself and your partner from pregnancy, HIV, and other STDs. Even if you or your partner is using another type of birth control, agree to use a condom every time you have sex, to reduce the risk to both of you for HIV and most other STDs. His condom + her hormonal birth control or IUD = DOUBLE PROTECTION.

Lisa Romero, DrPH, MPH

Biography

Lisa Romero, DrPH, MPH

"As a teenager, you have the power to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It doesn’t matter what gender your partner is, you both need to be protected. Get information about sex and how to protect yourself before you begin having sex."

Lisa Romero, DrPH, MPH - Health scientist, CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health

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