Home or Send Your Child To School? Your child wakes up with a sore throat and you begin an internal debate of whether to keep your child home or send them to school. On one hand, you do not want your child to struggle through the school day because they don’t feel well but, on the other hand, having your child catch up on school work and taking a day off of work yourself can be difficult if your child feels fine after getting their day started. How is a parent to know when it’s best to keep your child home to rest and reduce the risk of spreading illness to other kids? Let’s look at some common symptoms kids have and when it’s ok to go to school and when it’s best to stay home and recuperate.
Symptom – Fever
If your child wakes up with a fever over 101 degrees then they should stay home from school. Giving ibuprofen or acetaminophen will help bring your child’s fever down but the temperature should be taken prior to medicine given to determine if your child should go to school that day or not. A child with a fever is most likely contagious so they should stay home.
Symptom – Sore throat
If your child has a mild sore throat due to allergies or cold symptoms then they are most likely well enough to attend school. If the sore throat is severe it could be strep throat and you should take your child to a doctor to be tested. If your child tests positive for strep throat, they should be on antibiotics for 24 hours before returning to school to avoid spreading illness.
Symptom – Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
Pink eye is extremely contagious. If your child has yellow/green discharge coming out of their eye or the white of the eye is a pink color then your child should stay home until they have seen a doctor. Most schools will require a note from doctor saying the child is well enough to return to school or that the child take antibiotic eye drops for 24 hours before attending school.
Symptom – Headache
If your child wakes with a headache but does not have a fever it is most likely safe to send them to school. However, if your child is excessively tired or has other symptoms besides just a mild headache it is possible they are coming down with something and it might be best to stay home and rest.
Symptom – Rash
If your child has a rash from an unknown source keep them home until you are able to see a doctor to determine what the cause is. Rashes can be caused by many things and some of them are contagious. If you know the cause of your child’s rash such as ringworm or impetigo, use the appropriate measures to ensure it doesn’t spread.
Symptom – Ear ache
If your child has ear pain and no other symptoms, they are not contagious and can technically go to school. If the ear pain is causing discomfort, loss of sleep, or a fever, staying home to recuperate may be the best choice.
Symptom – Tummy troubles
If your child is having diarrhea or is vomiting, they will need to take the day off of school. Not only are they contagious but they probably aren’t up for their usual routine anyway.
Symptom – Cold symptoms
If your child has mild cold symptoms such as clear runny nose, mild sore throat, and mild fatigue then they are allowed to attend school. Keep in mind that while cold symptoms don’t affect your ability to participate in normal activities, it doesn’t mean that they are not contagious. Take care to practice frequent hand washing, cover that cough, and get dirty tissues in the trash can.
Symptom – Cough
You cannot keep your kids home from school and activities every time they cough but kids with a severe cough should stay home from school. Likewise, children who are experiencing shortness of breath or wheezing should stay home and see the family doctor.
When it comes to the decision of whether to keep your child home or send them to school, use common sense. If you saw another child with the same symptoms at school would you want them to be around your healthy child? If your child has extreme fatigue or generally feels unwell, it might be the sign of something to come and it may be best to rest at home. Usually, when it comes to stopping the spread of illness, it’s best to be safe than sorry. When in doubt, keep your child home until they are back to their normal, active self.
Tips to Keep Sickness Away
Follow these tips from the CDC to help keep sickness out of your home.
- Practice good hand washing
- Cover your cough
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
- Get vaccinated
- (That didn’t seem to apply to keeping sickness out)
- Clean and disinfect surfaces at home, work, and school
- Practice good sleeping habits
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy diet