When to Keep Your Child Home

Sometimes it can be difficult for a parent to decide whether to send children to school when they wake up with early symptoms of an illness or complaints that they do not feel well.  In general, during cold and flu season, the best place for them is home where they are less likely to expose others to their cold or flu.  Remind and show your children to discard used tissues promptly, not to share personal items, to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, to keep their hands away from their face, and to wash hands thoroughly and often with soap and warm water. Suggest that they silently sing the Happy Birthday song twice while washing their hands. The following are a few situations that warrant watching and possibly conferring with your health care provider:

 

  • Persistent fever greater than 100.4° orally, including a fever that requires control with medication, like Tylenol
  • Child is too sleepy or ill from an illness, like vomiting and/or diarrhea, to profit from sitting in class all day
  • Significant cough that makes a child feel uncomfortable or disrupts the class
  • Sore throat that is severe, accompanied by fever and/or feeling ill, that persists longer than 48 hours, OR after known exposure to a confirmed case of Streptococcal throat infection
  • Honey-crusted sores around the nose or mouth or rash on other body parts that might be impetigo; OR a rash in various stages including boils, sores and bumps that may be chicken pox; OR a significant rash accompanied by other symptoms of illness such as fever
  • Red, runny eyes that distract the child from learning
  •  Large amount of discolored nasal discharge, especially if accompanied by facial pain or headache
  • Severe ear pain or drainage from the ear
  • Severe headache, especially if accompanied by fever
  • Any condition that you think may be serious or contagious to others.

If you know your child is still running a fever, it is not a good idea simply to give them Tylenol and send them to school because as soon as the medicine wears off, you are apt to get the dreaded call from the school nurse to leave work and come to pick up your feverish child. It is essential that we have a phone number where you can be contacted during the day and an emergency number in the event you cannot be reached. Please be sure that arrangements can be made to transport your child home from school in case of illness. If your daytime or emergency phone number change during the year, please notify your child's nurse immediately.

It is better to let them stay home in bed with a fever and take their medications at home until they are off all medicines and ready to learn for a full day in a classroom.

If you find a pattern of your child’s asking to stay home from school, especially if they are falling behind or appear anxious by the thought of attending school, or if there does not appear to be any obvious physical symptoms, it may be a good idea to contact your school nurse and your health care provider to discuss your concerns.  Remember, whenever you keep your child home from school, please call the attendance office in advance of the start of the school day and leave a message that your child will be absent.