How to Tell If Your Child Is Too Sick for School

Looking through the handbook section on illnesses in my daughter’s preschool orientation, the principal told the parents, “If we made every child with a runny nose stay at home, we wouldn’t have children here.” Children get sick a lot, especially in the winter, and not everyone needs to sniff in order to take a day off from work as a nurse to their health. But it can be difficult to tell if your child is too sick to go to school, and it often comes down to judgment.

Many parents don’t want other students to pick up on what their children have , which has always been one of my biggest concerns, but science tells us that most diseases actually spread before symptoms appear, which is why the current American Academy of Sciences guidelines for elimination The main goal of pediatrics is to make sure your child is well enough to participate in the classroom and to enable the class to work as usual. As pediatrician Alison Mitsner tells parents, “If they are not ready for this, you will find out.”

Your school and pediatrician may have specific guidelines for when to keep your child at home, but here’s what the AAP says:

to send them

Assuming that your child is behaving normally and can participate in activities, you can send him or her to school if he or she has:

  • Cold or runny nose, regardless of the color and consistency of nasal discharge.
  • A cough that is not associated with fever, rapid or difficult breathing, wheezing, or cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the skin or mucous membranes).
  • Pink eye (bacterial conjunctivitis) presents with a pink or red conjunctiva with white or yellow mucous drainages from the eyes and confused eyelids after sleep. Schools used to send children home with pink eye, but now no exception is required. The AAP suggests thinking of it like a cold – the disease can be passed on to other children, but goes away on its own without treatment.
  • Watery, yellow, or white discharge or crusted discharge from the eyes without fever, pain in the eyes, or redness of the eyelids.
  • Fever without any other symptoms (for children over four months old), regardless of whether they were taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen. The AAP says: “Fever is an indicator of the body’s response to something, but in itself is neither a disease nor a serious problem.” Fever is defined as a temperature above 101 degrees.
  • Rash without fever or changes in behavior. (Exception: Call 911 if bruises or small blood spots spread quickly under the skin.)
  • Lice until the child starts treatment.

Keep them at home

Leave the child at home and talk to your doctor if he or she:

  • Any medical condition that prevents a child from comfortably participating in school activities.
  • An increase in body temperature above 101 degrees with a change in behavior in infants over 2 months. If your baby is less than 2 months old, call the doctor anytime he has a temperature above 100.4 degrees.
  • Diarrhea not associated with dietary changes.
  • Vomiting more than twice in the last 24 hours.
  • Abdominal pain that lasts more than two hours.
  • Drooling mouth ulcers that the child cannot control.
  • Rash with fever or changes in behavior.
  • Strep throat until the child receives two doses of antibiotic.
  • Head lice, only if the child has not been treated.
  • Chickenpox (chickenpox) until all lesions are dry or crusty.


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