TEXAS (KIAH) – Kids are back in school. That means a new teacher, new classmates, and most likely, new germs.

Typically, when school begins, there is an uptick in illnesses as kids crowd together in their classrooms. But there are some things you can do to reduce the risk of getting sick.

Dr. Carol Nwelue, Baylor Scott and White internal medicine physician, recommends parents talk to their children about not sharing utensils or personal care items, like combs or makeup, with friends at school.

And it may seem obvious  but it is so effective: emphasize the importance of hand washing.

“Remind them to wash their hands before and after eating. They should use water then soap, lather up very well, rinse their hands, dry them with a clean towel or air dry them,” said Dr. Nwelue.

If your child does bring an illness home from school, when is it okay to send them back? Dr. Nwelue said talk to your doctor first. A good rule of thumb is to ensure your child is fever-free for 24-hours and is no longer contagious before returning to class.