When is My Child Too Sick for School?

At one point or another, every parent of a grade-schooler has to face the tough choice of whether or not to send a sick child to school. A little sniffle - a slight cough... Is it okay to send him to school?

It can be tough to know, especially with younger school-age children, whether or not you really are dealing with a sick child.  Did you ever play hooky?  Is your child just angling for time at home with mom for extra cuddles?  Is he worried about something at school?  Or is he coming down with an infection?

            This is a major issue, especially for working moms and dads.  Here are some guidelines to help you make a decision.

·      Fever  -  A fever is a common symptom of viral infections, such as the flu.  A fever does not usually accompany a common cold.  If your temperature is 100.4 degrees or higher, keep your child home.  Be sure your child drinks plenty of liquids.

·      Cough  -  A severe, frequent cough means your child should stay home.  Coughs can easily spread infection to others.   If it is a mild cough with no fever or other symptoms then he can probably go to school.

·      Sore Throat  -  A minor sore throat is usually not a problem, but a throat that is extremely red, and painful could mean strep throat even without a fever.  Contact your doctor.  There is a special test for strep throat.

·      Diarrhea or Vomiting  -  With either of these symptoms it is best to keep your child home until he has gone 24 hours after the last episode. 

·      Rashes   -  Skin rashes can be a sign of a contagious infection, such as impetigo.  It is important to have the rash evaluated by a doctor before he heads back to school.

·      Pink Eye (conjunctivitis)  -  This infection can quickly and easily spread from one child, or adult, to another.  Keep your child home until your doctor says it is safe to return to school.

·      Stomachache  -  This is a hard call.  If there is no fever, diarrhea or constipation, the tummy problem could be anything from anxiety to food poisoning.  If there are no other symptoms then it is usually safe to send your child to school. 

            It is important for your child to have the flu vaccine.  It is a myth that the flu vaccine causes the flu.  It is true that the nasal spray flu vaccine contain live viruses.  However, the viruses are weakened.  There may be a mild reaction such as a runny nose, tiredness, or sore throat.  But, these side effects will clear up quickly.

            Most importantly it is important to teach your children to wash their hands often.  Teach them to cough or sneeze into the crook of their elbow.  And use tissues to blow their nose.  Be a good role model for your children.  And if they do have to stay home from school, enjoy the quiet time with them by reading and playing board games. 


News Release provided by Karen Lavender.

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