No matter where you go out in public these days, it's like being in a cesspool of germs. We are offered wipes to clean the grocery cart before we enter the store.
The doctor's office supplies face masks if you are coughing or sneezing. The hand sanitizer is available on the way in and the way out.
Some germs are good and help strengthen the immune system once you come in contact. Others, not so much.
A recent round with the norovirus left me fatigued and exhausted. Within two weeks - bam! head cold. And that's after fighting off a respiratory infection that lingered for weeks earlier this season.
As a child in school (many years ago) we were sent with sniffles, coughs, sneezing, what have you. It was probably lucky for everyone else at Bangor Junior High that I woke up with a terrible stiff neck. My parents took me to the doctor and I was put into the hospital with viral meningitis – a less severe form of the disease.
If I hadn't had the stiff neck, I may have gone to school and infected my classmates before the other symptoms appeared.
Imagine being a teacher, coach, or dance instructor. You kneel down and get face to face to help your young student to solve a problem. He's cute as a button with a mop of wild brown hair. It's why you do what you do.
As you assist, you notice the green slime collected around his nose. Then he coughs – in your face – because you are only a foot away, on his level, trying to be of help.
This scenario plays out over and over in many ways every day when a sick child goes to school, to after-school programs and activities.
As adults we've been advised over and over to take that sick day and not bring an illness into work. I was always taught to tough it out unless I couldn't hold myself up. We can no longer live by that old standard.
St. Charles East High School closed its doors to clean every surface in the school after 1/3 of its student population came down with norovirus type symptoms.
We still have several months before colds and flu begin to wane – May, according to Center for Disease Control.
To prevent the spread of viruses, the CDC recommends taking proper precautions including keeping students and staff home if they exhibit signs of illness. They go so far as to recommend the avoidance of perfect attendance awards for students and flexible sick leave policies for adults.
And they should stay home for 24 hours after no longer exhibiting signs of sickness, such as fevers, chills, sore throats, after medicines have been stopped.
We teach our children to cough or sneeze into sleeves instead of faces, hands or the air.
We encourage hand washing or sanitizers (a good time is as soon as you leave a public place). But we also need to listen and act when they tell us they don't feel well. Sometimes rest, love and maybe chicken soup at home is all that's needed to get well, and keep the sickness from being passed to others over and over and over again. Others will thank you.
• Kris Stadalsky writes about people and issues in areas southwest of Joliet. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.