Sick Kids: When to Keep a Child Home From School


Sometimes I consider going to medical school just to know what to do in every parental situation, until I remember medical school would cost more than my house, but man, would professional medical knowledge would be helpful when you have a sick child who is school-age. Is a stuffy nose enough to keep a kid from class? Is it highly contagious? Will it get worse? Deciding whether or not to send a sick child to school is a tricky decision, especially with kids who may become skilled actors or actresses once they realize sick is a stay-home pass.

sick kids
Here we have a case of video game-itus

So, how can you tell if your child is too sick for school?
The test:
There isn’t a pass or fail test to know whether or not a child should be sent to school, but your parental intuition is a great tool. Observe your child before ever mentioning him/her staying home from school. Is his/her behavior normal? Generally a sickness worthy of bed rest is going to alter a child’s behavior in some way; he or she may be more lethargic, less talkative, irritable, etc. You know your child, that knowledge is better than a medical degree.

Watch out for:
Keep an eye out for:

-Fever above 100.4 degrees
-Difficulty breathing
-Vomiting
-Diarrhea that is beyond controllable soft bowel movements
-Ear pain

All of the above generally warrant keeping your child home from school no matter how they seem to be feeling. Whereas things like fatigue or a stuffy nose could last weeks and mean keeping your child out of school far longer than is plausible, the above symptoms usually pass quickly but are a sign of a more serious virus that would be seriously no fun in public and may even require medical attention.

Be kind, don’t share.
Also watch for signs of contagious conditions, for example, in a case of sore throat, a visual inspection could spot the tell-tale white patches of strep. A child with red itchy eyes that are producing heavy discharge could have pink eye. Rashes in particular should also be evaluated. Remain aware of common contagious conditions in children as well as any that may be going around your community. In the case of a possible-contagion beyond the common cold, even if your child seems fine, keep them home and call your doctor. Other parents and their kids will thank you.

No matter the situation, trust yourself and your gut feeling on how sick your child really is. Even if you are wrong a time or two and your child gets to spend a day home from school with mom or dad, oh well, better safe than sorry.

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