It’s heartbreaking when your child is sick, but it’s also a definite inconvenience. If your kids are sick enough to need a day out of school and/or childcare, it takes a lot of coordination and rearranging from you as a parent. But many parents have difficulty knowing where the line is, and when they should or should not keep their kids home. The next time your child isn’t feeling well, our board-certified pediatricians and pediatric nurse practitioner have a helpful guide you can check.
How to Know if Your Child Needs to Stay Home Sick
There are three basic questions that can help you determine if you should keep your child home:
- Does he/she have a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher (or has within the past 24 hours)?
- Is he/she too ill to participate in class or would he/she need extra attention from the teacher or care provider?
- Is he/she contagious?
The first question has a clear answer – if your child’s temperature is 100.4 degrees or higher or if he/she has not been fever-free for 24 hours without ibuprofen or Tylenol, you need to keep him/her home. The second two questions are a bit less black-and-white. If you aren’t sure whether your child should go to school/day care, it’s best to ask a pediatrician or pediatric nurse practitioner. We understand that these things happen and that they can show up unexpectedly, so our team at Children’s Wellness Center can usually accommodate same-day appointments.
Even if your child didn’t meet the criteria above, he/she shouldn’t go to school with any significant symptoms, such as:
- Profuse runny nose
- Frequent or somewhat frequent coughing
- Respiratory symptoms that you feel the need to monitor
- Not at their normal activity level
- Not eating or drinking like they normally do
Specific Conditions that Warrant a Day at Home
For more specific guidelines, here are a few symptoms and conditions that will require your child to take the day off:
- Severe illness, persistent crying, lack of responsiveness, breathing difficulty, or a quickly spreading rash
- Diarrhea that doesn’t stay contained in a baby’s diaper or is causing a child to have accidents
- Vomiting twice or more in the past 24 hours
- Mouth sores with drooling that the child can’t control, or skin sores that are exposed and leaking fluid
- Rash accompanied by a fever and/or behavioral changes
- Strep throat or other streptococcal infection
- Untreated head lice, scabies, or ringworm
- Hepatitis A virus infection
In addition to these guidelines, some schools and child care facilities have their own policies about when kids are too sick to come. Find out if your kids’ facilities have policies and follow them closely so you don’t put other parents’ children or care providers at risk.
When your child is sick, all you want to worry about is helping him/her feel better. But with everyone’s busy lives, there’s a lot more to consider as well. This guide can be helpful, but if your child is sick, it may be best to schedule a pediatrician appointment to find out what could be wrong and whether you should keep him/her at home.
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