Ticks and the Magic of the Outdoors

Forest? Yay! Ticks? Ugh.

At Breakwater, we go outside. A lot. We firmly believe that all students, toddler - 8th grade, need access to nature the same way they need good nutrition and adequate sleep. It is fundamental to their growth and wellbeing. We know that our commitment to frequent meaningful, integrated outdoor experiences is part of why you have chosen Breakwater for your child. We also know that along with the outdoors come ticks. And that ticks are serious business.

The risk of tick-born illness is scary, and, let’s just say it: ticks are a little gross. However with knowledge and a vigilant daily tick-check routine, outdoor experiences are not only manageable but the benefits far outweigh the risks. 

HERE’S WHAT WE DO: We will notify you in advance of any planned off-campus outdoor activities in which your child will participate. On days that you know your child will be off-campus and outside, we recommend that your child dress in long, light colored pants, tucked into socks. DEET containing sprays are effective, and, if you choose, should be applied to clothing before your child arrives. Teachers are well informed on the identification of ticks and carry a tick ID card and tick removal instruments with them on field trips. Faculty will visually tick-check all exposed areas on all children before reentering the school building, will remove any attached ticks, and send them home sealed in tape. If you choose you can submit them for analysis (see below).

HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO: Vigilantly tick check your child(ren) everyday! Ticks are often associated with wooded areas, but in truth they are found in most outdoor places. A simple, thorough visual check of your child before bedtime everyday is excellent protection. If you find a tick, know how to remove it safely and dispose of it or submit for analysis. Understand the medical information about Lyme and other tick-born illnesses and know if or when physician intervention is reasonable. Treating pets with tick preventatives reduces the likelihood that they will carry ticks into your home.    

The outdoor world is an amazing, magical place - and we want children to feel safe and comfortable. Research demonstrates that daily outdoor experiences are critically important for developing mental and physical health, resilience, independence, courage, and an understanding of the interrelatedness of humans with the world around them. As adults, we can work together to insure that children are accurately informed and reasonable precautions are taken as we continue to provide rich and consistent opportunity for hands-on engagement with our environment - arachnids and all.

IMPORTANT LINKS: 
Breakwater Tick Information 2017 from Isaiah Meyer, MS, APRN, Breakwater School Nurse Consultant
Ticks and Lyme Disease from the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
Tick Identification Card from Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Tips on Tick Removal from the Center for Disease Control (CDC)