Is your child too sick for school

Is Your Child Too Sick For School?
This is for informational use only and should not be used in replace of a visit your child’s

Early in the morning it can be difficult to decide whether or not your child should go to school.
With minor symptoms you often cannot tell whether they are going to get better or worse during
the course of the day.
The main reasons for keeping your child home are: 1) if they are too sick to be comfortable to be
at school, or 2) if they might spread a contagious disease to other children. As a rule of thumb, a
child should stay at home who has a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, a very frequent cough, persistent
pain (ear, stomach, headache, etc.), or a wide-spread rash. Most of these problems need to be
discussed with your child’s health care provider to determine if an office visit is needed.
On the other hand, children who don’t have a fever and only have a mild cough, runny nose, or
other cold symptoms can be sent to school without any harm to themselves or others. The
following guidelines may help in you decision process:
Runny Nose: a runny nose is the way many children respond to pollen, dust or a cold
virus. Minor cold or allergy symptoms should not be a reason to miss school. Many healthy children have as many as 10-12 colds per year, especially in the early school years.
Coughing: a cough, especially if it is persistent during the day, can indicate a worsening
of a cold or allergy. It may be a sign of a secondary infection (sinusitis, pneumonia), that may require medical treatment. It may also indicate mild asthma. If your child’s cough is worse than you might expect with a common cold, you need to consult your physician. You should do so immediately if the child is not acting right, has a fever, or has any difficulty breathing.
Diarrhea and vomiting: If your child is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea they need to

Fever: A fever over 100.0 degrees is an important symptom. Especially when it occurs
along with a sore throat, nausea, or a rash, your child could have a contagious illness
that could be passed to classmates and teachers. While you can treat the fever, and
usually make the child feel better temporarily, the cause of the fever (and the risk of
passing it to others) is still there. Children with fever should stay home until the fever has
subsided for 24 hours. Remember to only give children under age 18 Tylenol
(Acetaminophen)or Advil (ibuprofen). Never give ASPIRIN.

Strep throat and scarlet fever: These are two highly contagious conditions caused by a
bacterial infection. They usually arrive with a sudden complaint of sore throat and fever,
and often stomachache and headache. With scarlet fever, a rash usually appears within
12-48 hours. A child with these symptoms should see their doctor for diagnosis and
treatment, and should remain out of school until they are without fever and have been on
antibiotics for 24 hours.

Middle ear infection can cause great discomfort and often fever, but are not thought to
be contagious to others. The child should see his doctor for diagnosis and treatment and should stay home if they have fever or pain.
Pink eye or conjunctivitis can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or allergy. The first two
are very contagious. The eye will be reddened, and a cloudy or yellow discharge is usually present. The eye may be sensitive to light. Consult with you child’s doctor to see if antibiotics are needed. Again, the child should stay at home until symptoms subside and they have been on antibiotics at least 24 hours.
Flu: is a contagious virus that usually occurs in the winter months. Symptoms include
body aches, high fever, chills, congestion, sore throat, and in some children, vomiting. The child should stay at home until these symptoms subside, usually 5-7 days. Consult your child’s doctor for treatment suggestions to make your child more comfortable.
Impetigo is a staph or strep infection that creates a red, oozing blister-like rash that can
appear anywhere on the body or face. It can be passed to others by contact. The most effective preventive measure is good personal hygiene, bathing with soap and water. Students with Impetigo should remain at home for 24 hours after beginning antibiotic treatment. Infected area should be covered if possible.
Chicken pox is a highly contagious viral illness. It causes fever and an itchy rash, which
spreads quickly all over the body, changing from red bumps to blister-like lesions, then
scabs. The child will need to stay home until all bumps are dry and no new bumps have
appeared for two days. Your child is contagious at least two days before the rash starts,
so you need to let the school know, and consult your doctor for symptomatic treatment. A
vaccine is now available for children and is required for all children who have not yet had
chicken pox.

Mites and lice brought into a school can quickly produce an epidemic of itching and
scratching. Mites are tiny insects that burrow into the skin and cause severe itching. Lice are tiny parasites, like ticks, that thrive on the warm scalp of children and also cause itching. All nits (eggs) need to be removed to help to prevent reinfestation. Head checks should continue at home for 10-14 days. Caution your child against sharing combs brushes hats, or other clothing.
Ringworm is a contagious fungus infection that can affect the scalp, the body
(particularly the groin), the feet and nails. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with worms. The name comes from the characteristic red ring that can appear on an infected person’s skin. Ringworm can be treated with fungus-killing medicine. The medicine can be taken in tablet or liquid form by mouth for scalp infections or as a cream applied directly to the affected area on the body, covered with a Band-Aid. The child should remain at home until treatment has begun. Lack of or inadequate treatment can result in an infection that will not clear up. All of these illnesses can be easily spread, both in school and at home. Keep in mind that handwashing is the single most important thing you can teach your child to do that will help prevent the spread of infections. Whenever there is doubt in your mind about sending your child to school, consult your child’s doctor before doing so. A phone consultation may be all that is necessary, or your doctor may need to see the child in the office. Remember to always make sure that the school knows how to reach you during the day, and that there is a back-up plan and phone number on file if they cannot reach you. This is an information sheet only and is not meant to be used for diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with your health care provider. If you have any questions about your child’s illness contact your health care provider



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