Guidelines for Keeping a Sick Child Home

Making the Call: When should your child stay home from school for an illness?

Almost every parent has grappled with this question at one time or another.  In the section below, you will find guidelines to help you make the "home verses school" decision.

Fever is the body's way of destroying the germs which are making it sick, and it's a common symptom of infections such as flu. Keep your child home if their temperature is 100° F or higher.  Your child may return to school after they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the aid of fever reducing medications.  Please note, if your child develops a fever at school, the district nurses will not give your child fever-reducing medications so they can remain in school.

Diarrhea is often the result of infection, food poisoning, or a side effect to medications like antibiotics.  Keep children home until stools are formed and your doctor gives the okay for return to school. Make sure your sick child stays well-hydrated.

Vomiting is another way for the body to rid itself of the germs making it sick, and is usually caused by a stomach virus or stomach infection. Keep children home if they have vomited twice or more in the last 24 hours. They can return to school after symptoms clear up or your doctor says they're no longer contagious.  Again, remember hydration is very important.

Severe cough and cold symptoms should keep kids home from school. A serious cough could be a sign of contagious conditions like whooping cough, bronchitis, or croup. It can also be a sign of asthma or allergies.

Sore throats can be a symptom of strep throat or a common cold. It is especially important to keep your child home if the sore throat is a accompanied by a fever.  If your child has been diagnosed with strep throat, keep your child at home for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotics. If your child has a mild cold, it's okay to send them to school.

Pinkeye (conjunctivitis) is contagious, and children should stay home from school for the first 24 hours after treatment begins. Symptoms of pinkeye include eye redness, irritation, swelling, and pus.

Headaches can be a symptom of contagious conditions like viral gastroenteritis, flu, meningitis, and strep throat. Opinions differ on whether a child should be kept home. If your child doesn't have any other signs of illness (vomiting/diarrhea, sore throat, fever, rashes etc) and feels okay, your child can go to school.

Rashes can be the sign of contagious conditions such as chickenpox, bacterial meningitis, scabies, or impetigo. Children should be kept home until they're diagnosed. They can return to school after symptoms are gone and their doctor gives the okay.

Earaches aren't contagious. There's no need to keep a child with a mild earache home, as long as your child feels well enough to concentrate.

Mild cold or respiratory symptoms are no reason to keep children at home so long as their nasal drainage is clear and their cough is mild.  Copious amounts of thick, greenish-yellow nasal discharge would indicate a need to be home from school.
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