As a parent and teacher, I know how difficult it is to decide whether you should send your child to school when he isn’t feeling well. On one hand, you want to send the message that school is important and that your child should have good attendance. On the hand, if you send him to school when he isn’t feeling well, you know you will probably get a call from his teacher asking you to pick him up. So how do you decide?
Coughs and Colds
According to WebMD, children with mild coughs and cold symptoms should go to school, but if the cough is severe or your child has a temperature, keep him home. Keep kids home until they have been fever free for 24 hours. Keep in mind that fever free means a temperature below 100 F without the use of medication.
For coughs, you can send your child back to school as soon as the cough improves, but you don’t need to wait until it is completely gone.
Vomiting or Diarrhea
Vomiting and diarrhea are typically associated with viruses, but according to the Connecticut Flu Watch they may accompany the swine flu. If your child vomits or has diarrhea, don’t chance sending her to school. Keep her home until she is symptom free for 24 hours.
Sore or Irritated Throat
Mild sore throats may accompany colds and do not typically require treatment. If your child experiences extreme soreness or has difficulty swallowing, keep him home from school and call your doctor. Although generally accompanied by a fever, sore throats can be a sign of strep throat, even when a fever is not present.
If your child wakes up with a rash, even if it is light, keep him home from school. The rash may be a sign of an infectious disease and needs an evaluation by your doctor. Follow the doctor’s instructions for returning to school.
Ask the doctor for a note explaining your child’s illness to the school, as many schools will not excuse your child’s absence without a doctor’s note. Some schools do not allow students to make up missed work if their absence in unexcused.
Be prepared for illness in your child by keeping a thermometer in an easy-to-find place. Keep a supply of Tylenol and cold medicine and make plans for childcare in the event that your child is sick. Being prepared may not prevent illness, but it will make it more manageable for both you and your child.
WebMD: Your Child: Too Sick For School?
Connecticut Flu Watch: When to Keep Your Child Home from School