How to Tell if Your Child is Too Sick for School or Daycare

February 5, 2018


As a parent, it’s inevitable that you’ll wake up to a sick child.


Your first thought is about your child’s comfort and health – seeing what hurts, aches or doesn’t feel well.


After doing the initial assessment, you’ll more than likely be wondering if you need to rearrange your day to miss work because school or daycare is out of the question. The internal debate about whether or not they are well enough to venture out begins and the fact that your child doesn’t have a fever makes the decision even more difficult.


You know you wouldn’t want another parent bringing their child to school or daycare if they were contagious, but you don’t want your child to miss out and take a sick day if it’s not necessary.


The best first step is to review the facility’s illness policy and compare it to your child’s symptoms. They usually can be found on the website but here are the common illness guidelines frequently listed by schools and daycare providers:


If your child has a fever, keep them at home until their temperature is under 100.5 without Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Ibuprofen for 24 hours. 


If your child has vomited more than twice, keep them home until 24 hours have passed without vomiting.


At some facilities, three or more stools per day may be considered diarrhea and a child should remain home until they are have two or less per day. This may vary by a child’s age, as younger children often stool more frequently than older children.


If your child has a rash, it is up to the school or health care provider, as some can be infectious.


Keep a child home if they have thick eye drainage with fever or eye pain.  If they need antibiotic treatment for bacterial pink eye (conjunctivitis), they must be home until they have used the antibiotic for 24 hours.


Children with strep throat or impetigo need to stay home until they have been on antibiotics 24 hours.


Children with mouth sores or hand, foot, and mouth disease should be kept home until the mouth sores are resolved.


Children with influenza should be keep home for seven to ten days, from the onset of symptoms.


Children with ear infections or a cold CAN attend daycare/school if they are not very clingy, fussy or febrile.


After reviewing the guidelines and are still unsure of whether or not your child can return to school or daycare, please give us a call. One of our pediatric nurse practitioners can answer questions over the phone or make an appointment to bring your child in for an evaluation.


Don’t forget… if you keep your child out of school because of their symptoms, please keep them at home as much as possible.  If your child is too sick or contagious, they do not belong at the store, the gym or in activities. Keeping your child home when sick will improve their recovery and decrease the chances that they contract another illness.


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