Is Your Child Too Sick For School?

Sick Child

Early in the morning is often a difficult time to make the decision whether or not your child is too sick to go to school. With minor symptoms, it is often difficult to tell if they are going to get better or worse during the school day. The main reasons for keeping a child home are: the child is too sick to be comfortable in school, or the child might spread a contagious disease to others. Below are guidelines to help you decide if your child should be kept home.

  • Fever (100 degrees or higher) is an important symptom of illness. While you can treat the fever to make your child feel more comfortable temporarily, the cause of the fever and the risk of passing an illness to others is still there. Your child must be fever free ( without the use of Tylenol or Advil) for 24 hours before he/she can return to school. Never give children under the age of 18 aspirin.
  • Severe cough- can be a symptom of bronchitis, flu, or pneumonia. Your child should be checked by a physician to rule these illnesses out. Your child may return to school when cleared by the physician or when the cough subsides.
  • Sore throat- a severe sore throat could be strep throat. A fever doesn't have to be present, other symptoms of strep throat can be headaches and stomach aches. The physician needs to do a strep test to determine if your child's sore throat is strep or just a minor sore throat. If strep throat is diagnosed, your child needs to stay home until he/she is on antibiotics for 24 hours.
  • Diarrhea and Vomiting- make a child very uncomfortable. It could be very embarrassing for your child to have an episode in school. If diarrhea and/or vomiting are persistent or are accompanied by fever, rash, or general weakness, consult your physician and keep your child out of school.
  • Flu- All children in pre-school are required to have a flu vaccine. The flu is a contagious virus that usually occurrs in the winter months. Symptoms include body aches, high fever, chills, congestion, sore throat, and in some children vomiting. The child should stay home until the symptoms subside, usually 5-7 days.
  • Ear infections- can cause much discomfort in children. The child should be seen for a diagnosis and treatment and remain out of school until he/she has no fever and no pain.
  • Pink eye- can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or allergy. The first two are very contagious. The eye will be reddened, and a yellowish discharge is usually present. Consult your child's doctor to see if antibiotics are needed. Again, the child should remain home until the symptoms subside and they have been on antibiotics for 24 hours.
  • Lice- Please check your child's head on a regular basis for lice. Lice do not cause illness but they are passed from head to head. If you see live lice, please contact your physician for treatment advice. Also, please inform the school nurse. The child's head must be checked by the school nurse prior to being readmitted into school.

All of these conditions can be easily spread, both in school and at home. Keep in mind that hand-washing is the single most important thing you can teach your child to do that will help prevent the spread of infections.

Whenever there is doubt in your mind about sending your child to school, consult your child's physician. A phone conversation may be all that is necessary, or the physician may need to see your child in the office.

This sheet is a reference sheet only and is not meant to be used for diagnosis or as a substitute for consulting a health care provider. If you have any questions related to your child's health or our school policies, please feel free to contact me at 856-988-0685 ext. 6504.