When you have children in school, whether it’s daycare, preschool or elementary school, it isn’t always easy to know when they are too sick to attend. While your child’s doctor, your parent’s intuition and the school’s handbook are the best guides, keep the following advice when choosing whether or not to send your under-the-weather child to school.
If a child comes down with a fever (101 degrees or higher), keep him or her home until the temperature goes down. Fever is a sign that the body is fighting infection and while it may or may not be contagious, it’s best for the child to get some rest and drink lots of water.
Nausea, Diarrhea or Vomiting
Is your child experiencing moderate to severe stomach distress? Persistent symptoms (vomiting or diarrhea more than once within 24 hours) mean that they should stay home and see a physician.
This symptom is a little less cut and dry than the others because a sore throat can be either a mild, harmless side effect of the common cold or a severe sign of strep throat. When the pain is distracting or accompanied by a fever, keep the child home and get him or her checked for strep. Otherwise, send them to school.
Other Aches & Pains
For those other “grey area” symptoms like earaches, rashes, eye irritation and colds/coughs, ask yourself the question, “Will they be able to focus at school or will they be too uncomfortable?” If the answer is the latter, the symptoms may warrant a day home from school and a trip to the primary care provider.
To keep illness at bay during this school year, be sure to teach and reinforce proper hygiene habits like frequent hand washing, as that is the best defense against contagious sickness. And remember, even in the early years, consistent school attendance is important for furthering intellectual progress and establishing a routine—so don’t let a case of the sniffles mean a missed day of school if you can help it. Smart judgment and taking real steps to prevent the spread of germs go a long way.