COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Is it a cold, COVID allergies, or something else? Many parents are asking that question as we’re now a few weeks into the new school year and kids are coming down with the inevitable back-to-school bugs.

OhioHealth family and sports medicine physician Dr. Ben Bring said the first and best way to keep kids healthy is to keep them fully up to date on their vaccines and keep them home from school when they are contagious.

“A good way to look at that are some of the symptoms. If your child has a really high fever, chills, night sweats — those types of things — definitely have them stay at home,” Bring said. “If they’re on any fever-reducing medications, things like Tylenol or ibuprofen, [that] would definitely be some other good reasons to stay at home.

“If you do think that your child has seasonal allergies, with just some sneezing, that could be reasonable that they could go to school.”

Bring said as the weather gets colder, there are other viruses in addition to the current COVID-19 variant of which parents should be aware: RSV, rhinovirus, and different types of coronaviruses that cause the common cold.

“The biggest thing that I try to tell my kids … and the kids we see in the office is, frequent hand-washing can be a powerful tool. The biggest mistake we see with the hand washing is, 1, not washing enough, and 2, not washing for long enough, too,” Bring said.

“Usually I’ll encourage kids to sing a full alphabet, make sure they get their hands nice and really lathered up,” he added.

Watch the full interview with Dr. Bring in the video player below.