Health Guidance and Resources for Families—Tips for Staying Healthy

Tips for Staying Healthy

  • Stay up to date on all vaccines
    • Vaccines are the best way to prevent your child from getting many illnesses and spreading them to others.
    • Many vaccines are required to attend school. Your child could be at risk for being sent home from school if they do not have the required vaccines.
    • Additional vaccines such as those for COVID-19, influenza, and HPV are highly recommended to protect children and others.
    • To find a COVID-19 or flu vaccination site, visit
    • Please talk to your child’s health care provider if you have questions about vaccinations.
  • Practice Good Hygiene: You can also help us avoid the spread of illness at your child’s school. Here are a few simple actions you and your child can take to keep your child and other students healthy:
    • Cover Your Cough Use a tissue to cover coughs and sneezes.  If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze, or cough into your sleeve, not your hands. Teach your child to cover up their coughs too!
    • Wash Hands Often Washing your hands with soap and water stops the spread of germs. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer. You and your child should always wash hands before...
      • coming into contact with small children
      • touching food
      • eating
      and after...
      • using the bathroom
      • helping your child use the toilet
      • wiping your nose or your child’s nose
      • coughing or sneezing
      • changing a diaper
    • Consider wearing a mask: Masks are an important layer of protection to stop the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. You should always wear a mask when sick and around other people or if you were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19. You may also consider wearing a mask at other times, such as crowded indoor settings, particularly if you or your child is at high risk for severe COVID-19 or around others who are, such as grandparents or other older adults.
      • Masks will also be required when entering the school medical room when the nurse suspects the student has respiratory symptoms
      • Wear a high-quality mask, such as a KN95, KF94 or N95 for the best protection from COVID-19.
    • See a Health Care Provider Regularly: If your child has a chronic condition, they may need to see their health care provider more often. The health care provider will manage your child’s condition with a treatment plan. This can reduce your child’s symptoms and lower the chance of an emergency room visit. Schools also offer services that can support an outside health care provider’s care. Learn about services at school for students with conditions like asthma, allergies, and diabetes. If you don’t have a health care provider, call 311 or the 24-hour Contact Center for NYC Health and Hospitals (H+H) at 844-NYC-4NYC to be connected to care. Care is available in NYC regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. Find a Health Center.

What To Do When Sick

  • Stay Home
    • Rest can help you and your child get better sooner, and it helps prevent the spread of germs.
    • Children with diarrhea should stay home until the diarrhea has stopped (stools are formed).
    • Anyone with a fever should stay home until, for at least 24 hours, they have had no fever without taking fever-reducing medicine and symptoms are improving, or until their doctor says it is okay to go back to school or daycare.
    • Please note that based on your child's symptoms, your school nurse may determine your child must stay home for other reasons based on their professional judgement.
    • Please call your school or school nurse to let them know if your child has a confirmed diagnosis of an illness that can spread to others.
    • If your child is having difficulty breathing, call your doctor right away.
  • COVID-19 Guidance as of March 2024
    • Based on updated health guidance, instead of a minimum isolation period, people with COVID-19 should stay home and away from others based on their symptoms, similar to how they would for other respiratory infections, like flu and RSV.
      • If your child has COVID-19 symptoms, they should still get tested and separate from others right away.
      • Your child should stay home until, for at least 24 hours, they have had no fever without taking fever-reducing medicine and other COVID-19 symptoms are getting better.
      • If your child tests positive for COVID-19 but has no symptoms, they do not need to stay home but they still need to take the below steps to prevent spreading the virus to others.
      • Additional COVID-19 information can be found here.
  • Avoid getting others sickYour child should follow these precautions when home sick and for the next five days after they return to school, work, and other activities, as they still may be contagious.
    • Wear a well-fitting mask that covers both the nose and mouth whenever around other people.
    • Continue to keep a distance from others, especially those at higher risk of serious illness. This includes people age 65 and older, people who have a weakened immune system, and people with underlying health conditions that increase the risk of serious illness.
    • When indoors and around others, take steps to improve ventilation if possible, such as opening windows and using an exhaust fan.
    • Practice good hygiene by covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, using hand sanitizer, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.
    • If your child develops a fever or starts to feel worse after they have gone back to normal activities, they should stay home and away from others again until, for at least 24 hours, their symptoms are improving overall and they have not had a fever (and are not taking fever-reducing medicine). Then take the above additional precautions for the next 5 days.

Health Insurance

Children with health insurance are more likely to have a regular health care provider and get the health care services they need.

Health insurance helps with the cost of health care provider visits and prescribed medicine. Make sure you and your family are covered. Almost all NYC children can get Child Health Plus health insurance for free or at a low cost. Your child may also be able to get insurance through your job, Medicaid, or the NY State of Health Marketplace.

  • Your school can help you and your family explore options and sign up for health insurance. Reach out to the Parent Coordinator at your school to get connected to an insurance navigator.
  • You can also enroll online through the NY State Health Marketplace, or call their help line: 1-855-355-5777.
  • Students and their families who qualify for Child Health Plus, Medicaid or the Essential Plan can sign up for insurance all year long.

For answers to frequently asked health insurance questions, read Get Covered NYC! More information on free and low-cost insurance options are available.

Nutrition Tips

A healthy diet emphasizes whole, minimally processed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, and whole grains. Healthy eating also means lower amounts of red and processed meats, refined grains and sugary foods and drinks.

A healthy balanced whole-foods diet with lots of plants can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Plant-based diets full of whole or minimally processed foods are examples of healthy diets. They can include a range of dietary patterns (vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous) that include mostly foods from plants (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, lentils), and fewer animal foods. Diets that emphasize whole or minimally processed plant foods are good for your health and can help our planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Use this healthy eating formula when planning your next meal:

Eat More Plants