When to Keep Your Child Home from School
It’s hard sometimes to decide whether to send your child to school when he or she doesn’t feel well. It is very seldom a convenient situation when your child is sick. Often, you have to consider work schedules, childcare arrangements, transportation and other family matters in that decision, and of course, what is best for your child’s health.
Good attendance is extremely important to your child’s success at school. They need to be here to learn. There are also important health reasons for keeping your child home from school, so here are some important guidelines to consider when you hear those words, “I feel sick; I don’t want to go to school today.” They were developed from Texas laws requiring exclusion for contagious diseases that could be spread at school. These guidelines must be enforced for the comfort and safety of all our students.
Children who have the following symptoms should stay home and not come to school until these symptoms have been gone for at least 24 hours without the help of medication, or until your doctor sends a note that states the condition is not contagious and it is OK for your child to come back to school.
- FEVER – check your child’s temperature with a thermometer, and if a fever over 100 degrees is present, do not send him or her to school, even for just a little while in the morning. It does not help your child’s health to give medicine for fever and send them on to school…that only reduces the fever for a short time, and does not take care of the illness that is causing the fever. Coming to school sick (and possibly contagious) not only exposes other children to the illness, but also delays your child’s healing time. Once the medicine wears off and the fever returns, your child must be picked up anyway, and valuable healing time has been lost. Children must be fever-free for 24 hours, without the use of fever-suppressing medication, before returning to school.
- VOMITING/DIARRHEA – until known that these are not signs of a contagious illness, such as a stomach virus, your child should be kept home. Consider how uncomfortable these two things are, even to an adult who has better control, and how distressed and embarrassed your child will be at school having to go to the restroom often, or feeling sick while sitting at his/her desk. If vomiting or diarrhea happen more than once that day, or if they are associated with fever, you must keep your child home. Even if these things happen only one time before school starts, and your child feels better immediately afterwards, it is still wise to watch for a few hours to see if it happens again before sending him or her on to class. If your child is spending all his or her time at school feeling sick, then not much learning is taking place! According to State law, children with any diarrheal illness should be excluded from school until they are diarrhea-free for 24 hours without the use of diarrhea suppressing medication.
- SKIN RASHES – if the rash has any fluid or pus coming from it, the child must remain out of school until the rash has been treated and a note from the doctor states it is permissible to return to school, or until the rash is gone, dried, or scabbed over with no new spots appearing. Anytime a rash is associated with fever, the child may not come to school until that fever is gone for 24 hours without medication. Sometimes a rash is a sign of a contagious disease such as chickenpox. Sometimes, rashes are not contagious, but are uncomfortable and itchy from contact with something to which the child is allergic. In that case, although school is certainly a good option, please consider comfort measures such as an antihistamine, following the district policy for medication administration at school and discussing possible treatment with your doctor and/or the school nurse.
- RED EYES, ESPECIALLY IF THERE IS ALSO DRAINAGE OR CRUSTING AROUND THE EYE -this can often mean your child has conjunctivitis, also known as pink-eye. Not all pink-eye is contagious. Sometimes it is just allergies or other irritations that are causing the red color, but until we know for sure, which means we must have a note from the doctor stating the condition is not contagious, or until the redness and drainage are completely gone, your child must remain out of school.
- PEDICULOSIS (HEAD LICE)– these small insects cause skin conditions that are uncomfortable and itchy, and could become infected. See CISD Head Lice Protocol link. Check with the school nurse to get information on treatment and when your child may return to school if those conditions are present.
- RINGWORM - a fungal infection that can be spread, does not require exclusion from school so long as the infected area can be completely covered by clothing and/or bandage.
If your child has other symptoms (such as headaches, cramps, sore throat, cough and/or thick mucous) that do not require them to be absent from school but that will make them uncomfortable during school, please discuss the use of over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications with your doctor, and remember you must follow the district requirements for giving medicine at school. Call the school nurse if you are not sure about those requirements.
Kids who are truly sick will heal better and faster when they have proper rest at home, with lots of fluid for hydration and healthy nutrition.