November 20, 2017

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Is My Child Too Sick for School?

Sometimes it’s an easy call to keep your child home from school, but other times it can be hard to figure out what to do.

Ask yourself these three questions.  If you say yes to any of them, it’s best to keep your child home from school or daycare.

1)      Does my child have a fever?  A fever is defined as 100.4º or higher although many schools may define a fever between 99º and 100º.

2)      Could my child be contagious?  Most schools want your child to be symptom-free for at least 24 hours before they return to school.

3)      If I sent my child to school would they be able to focus?  Being sick can make you miserable, and sometimes even a slight stomachache or frequent cough may be enough to cause a lack of concentration.  If you’d find it difficult to concentrate at work, your child will probably feel the same way at school.

 At ACMC we see a lot of children at the recommendation of the school nurse especially when it comes to fevers.  Often times the parent doesn’t know what their child’s temperature was or what their symptoms were.  Good communication with your child’s school or daycare is imperative so you have as much information as you can to share with your doctor.

If you still aren’t sure whether or not to send your child to school, consider these symptoms:

  • Sore Throat:  If your child has a fever that accompanies a sore throat, keep him home.  But consider keeping him home if there are other symptoms like an extremely sore throat that makes it hard to swallow or nausea.
  • Stomachache:  As a general rule, if your child just has a stomachache, send him off to school. But if you think your child might be infectious, has a fever, feels nauseous or is vomiting, keep him home from school.
  • Vomiting:  If your child is throwing up, keep him home from school.
  • Diarrhea:  If your child has persistent diarrhea, keep him home from school.
  • Fever:  Watch for a fever of 100.4º and above.  If the fever is over 102º, not only should you keep your child home from school, but you should also consider having your child see a doctor.  Fevers of 102ºand higher typically suggest something more serious than a virus.
  • Cold:  As a general rule, if your child has a cold, he can go to school with congestion, coughing and other cold-related symptoms if he is fever-free.  Consider keeping your child home if you don’t think he’ll be able to function throughout the school day.
  • Flu:  Typical symptoms of the flu include a high fever, chills, fatigue or lack of energy and a significant cough, headache or body ache.  Keep your child home from school if he is experiencing any of these symptoms.  It’s a good idea for everyone ages six months and older to get a flu shot especially kids who may be exposed to others who may have the virus.
  • Pinkeye:  Generally schools prefer to keep your child out of school for anything that suggests pink eye such as a red or mattery eye.
  • Rash: Rashes have many causes.  A rash by itself isn’t reason to keep your child home unless it is accompanied by a fever, sore throat or other symptoms.  A rash that covers a large part of the body or multiple parts of the body might be infectious, and the child should avoid contact with other kids until you know for sure.  An exception to this rule is when you notice sores around the nose or mouth as a rash there may be impetigo and, therefore, infectious.
  • Earache:  As long as your child isn’t contagious and you think he will be able to focus and pay attention in school, send him on his way.
  • Fatigue: Sometimes tiredness can be a sign that an illness is on the way.  But it could also mean they aren’t getting enough sleep or quality sleep.  Watch for other symptoms.  If he’s symptom free and will be able to focus in school, there’s no reason not to send him.

Determining when your child is well enough to go back to school is another matter all together.  Most of the time if your child has been symptom free for 24 hours or has been taking an antibiotic for 24 hours, he should be ready to go back.  But also consider how your child will function in school.  If you think he’s feeling up to it, there’s no reason not to send your child back to school or daycare.