To Come or Not to Come, That is the Question
You don’t want your child to miss school, but neither do you want to send a sick child to school and endanger his or her health or the health of other students. When should your child stay home from school? Here are a few guidelines you might follow:
- A runny nose, “leaky faucet,” is the way many children respond to pollen, dust, chalk, or simply a change in the season. If it isn’t a common cold then it’s an allergy and allergies aren’t contagious. Don’t keep your child home.
- A bad cough or cold systems can indicate a severe cold, bronchitis, flu, or even Pneumonia. Some children suffer one cold after another all winter long and general cold symptoms should not be a reason to miss school. But if your child is not acting “right,” has difficulty breathing, or is becoming dehydrated, it could be serious. Check with your primary care physician right away.
- Diarrhea and vomiting make children very uncomfortable, and being near the bathroom becomes a top priority. If your child has repeated episodes of diarrhea and vomiting, accompanied by fever, a rash, or general weakness, consult a doctor and keep your child out of school until the illness passes. However, a single episode of diarrhea or even vomiting unaccompanied by any other symptoms may not be reason enough for the child to miss school.
- Fever is an important symptom; when it occurs along with a sore throat, an earache, nausea, listlessness, or a rash, your child may be carrying something contagious. Most physicians advise parents to keep children home during the course of the fever, 100 or higher, and for an additional 12-24 hours after the fever has passed.
- Strep throat and scarlet fever are two highly contagious conditions caused by a streptococcal (Bacteria) infection. They usually arrive with a sore throat and high fever. Some 12 to 48 hours after the onset of scarlet fever, a rash should appear. A child with strep throat or scarlet fever should be kept and treated with antibiotics, as prescribed by a physician. After 24 hours on antibiotics, a child is usually not contagious and may — with doctor’s permission—return to school.
- Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye is highly contagious and uncomfortable, so take heed when your child complains of an eye burning, itching, and producing a whitish or greenish sticky discharge. Minor cases (caused by viruses) and severe cases (caused by bacteria) require treatment with prescription eye drops. Best to keep your child home until your doctor says it is all right to return. Generally it is ok to return to school once the drops are started as long as there is no matting of eyelashes or discharge from the eyes.