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Too Sick for School

When should your child stay home from school?

During cold and flu season, there are many questions parents face. We don't want your child to miss classes, but at the same time, we don't want sick or contagious students at school to infect other children or staff. I have put together a few guidelines to help you reduce this chance, which I hope you will find helpful.


1. Fever - Children should be fever free for 24 hours without the assistance of medication before returning to school. A child's temperature is lowest in the morning, so a normal temp on awakening is not a true indicator. If you have given your child Tylenol or Motrin during the night, the medication could still be affecting your child's temperature. This generally pertains to fevers of 100* or higher.

2. Diarrhea and Vomiting - Children need to stay home from school for 24 hours if either of these conditions occur. A child who has been ill during the night may feel slightly better in the morning and even ask to go to school. However, the child will likely experience symptoms of illness later, will also be tired from loss of sleep, and may still be contagious.

3. Cold Symptoms- Thick/constant nasal drainage, and persistent hacking cough are both reasons to keep a child home. Very few younger children can effectively blow their noses and wash their hands afterwards. A child with these symptoms will quickly spread the illness to others.

4. Rash- Please check with your health professional before sending your child to school. An unexplained rash may be the first sign of one of many childhood diseases.

5. Conjunctivitis/Pink Eye- Children diagnosed with an eye infection may return to school when eye drainage is no longer present, after beginning treatment, or on the advice of their physician. This can be highly contagious, depending on the cause.

6. Sore Throat- If your child has been diagnosed with strep, follow your physician's advice on when he/she may return to school after starting antibiotic therapy. Sore throats can be a minor problem, but if accompanied by a fever, difficulty swallowing, or swollen lymph nodes, it could be a sign of a more serious illness.

7. Earache- A child with an earache may or may not be contagious, but often is too distracted from the pain to effectively remain at school. Children with chronic ear problems may need a pain reliever during school hours to avoid excessive absences. An earache is often a sign of an ear infection, which if untreated, may lead to hearing loss.

8. Head Lice- If you find lice in your child’s hair, treat with a lice killing shampoo and contact the school nurse . The earliest symptom of head lice is itching, particularly in the area behind the ears and at the nape of the neck. Lice are tiny, wingless insects that feed on human blood to live. They hatch from eggs called nits. Nits can be found on the hair shaft. Lice cannot fly or jump from one person to another, but move by crawling. Please remind your child, not to share hats, combs, brushes and not to pile their coats at school on top of other students coats. Routinely check your child's head, and see the nurse with any questions.

9. Any contagious illness or condition- Always notify the school if your child has an illness or condition such as, impetigo, scabies, fifth's disease, chicken pox, or ringworm. The school nurse can advise you as to specific recommendations for each problem.

If your child needs to take ANY type of medication at school, a medication authorization form must be filled out by parents and signed by a physician. Forms can be picked up in the nurses office.