Back to School Reminders

It's time to think about ways to keep your children healthy and safe this school year. Vaccinations, eye exams, bike helmets, and healthy snacks are at the top the back-to-school health tip list.

Healthy Living

Backpack alert! Harmful Tobacco Products Disguised as Teens' USB Sticks and More

In Rhode Island, it's illegal to smoke or possess any tobacco product on any school property-for anyone, any age, any time-indoors and outdoors. This state law includes electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products, which covers all forms and brands of e-cigarettes and "vaping" devices. School administrators, teachers, and parents nationwide are on alert for heightened teen use of highly addictive ENDS devices that can go undetected by adults when disguised like everyday items. A growing number of ENDS products resemble USB computer memory sticks and are available in kid-friendly, trendy, or fruity flavors. One top-selling brand is known as "Juul", which carries high doses of nicotine.  Other disguised ENDS products might resemble asthma inhalers, hoodie draw strings, gas masks, mint tins, beverage containers, simple writing pens, and other common household items. more

School Flu Clinics

The school flu vaccination program will once again run throughout Rhode Island this year. Clinics for students in kindergarten through 12th grade will begin in October and run through mid-December. Evening clinics are open to community members (ages 3 and up). more

School-Based Health Centers

School-based health centers make getting healthcare easy for students because they do not have to leave school and do not need medical insurance to receive services. There are currently two school-based health centers in the state. more

Healthy Snacks

Set a good example and promote good health habits for children by eating healthily and being physically active. Provide healthy options for your child's meals and snacks at school. more You can also view inspection reports for the state's school cafeterias.


Make sure that your child has recieved all the immunizations that are required for school entry. Children need certain immunizations before entry into pre-k, kindergarten, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 12th grade. more High school students can be immunized against many vaccine-preventable diseases through the state's Vaccinate Before You Graduate program. more

Eye Exams

Every child should have a complete eye exam by age three. Serious eye diseases such as Amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (crossed eyes) are correctable with eye patches or surgery if caught early. All children entering kindergarten are required by state law to have a vision screening before the start of the school year.

Packing Lunch

When you send your child off to school, remember to pack food safely. Before preparing lunch, wash your hands, fresh fruit and vegetables. When packing perishable foods, put hot foods in an insulated container and put cold foods next to an ice pack.

Injury Prevention and Safety

School Bus Safety

For thousands of Rhode Island students, the school day begins and ends with a trip on a school bus. The greatest risk is not riding the bus, but approaching or leaving the bus. Before children go back to school or start school for the first time, it is essential that adults and children know traffic safety rules. more

Car Safety

September brings an increase in car trips to school, lessons and sports practices. Safety experts recommend that all children under age 13 ride in the rear seat. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (e.g. a carpool), move the front passenger seat back as far as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts don't fit properly without it. more

Pedestrian Safety

Walking has great health benefits, but a walk to school should be safe. Learn how you can help your child be the safest pedestrian possible. more

Bicycle Safety

Be sure your child wears a properly-fitted bicycle helmet and follows a safe route when riding to and from school. State law requires that bicycle operators, bicycle passengers, skateboarders, roller skaters, inline skaters, and scooter riders 15 years old and younger wear a helmet.

Backpack Overload

Make sure children are not having back pain as a result of carrying a backpack to school. Look for packs with individual compartments and put heaviest items closest to the body. Sharp objects like pencils should be in smaller pockets on the outside. School back packs should have two shoulder straps and your child should use both. more


Schools should be safe and supportive environments. Rhode Island Statewide Bullying Policy prohibits bullying in schools and recommends ways to prevent it.

Sports-Related Concussions

Concussions can occur in sports or recreational activity. Sports-related injuries are one of the primary causes of Traumatic Brain Injury in school-aged children. Athletes who return to play before they are cleared by a physician could risk serious or permanent injury.

Diseases and Conditions

Germ Fighting

Hand washing is one of the simplest and most effective means of preventing the spread of flu and other infectious diseases. If soap and warm water are not available, consider giving your child packets of alcohol-based hand gel. Clean counters regularly with cleanser or soap to lower germs that may hitch a ride back home from school.

Planning for Sick Days

Make plans ahead of time to care for your child in case he gets sick. If your child has a fever, keep him home from school until he has been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medications such as Tylenol or Advil. As flu season approaches, learn how to prevent and treat the flu. more