Kids get sick. Sometimes, they get sick a lot. It can be hard as a parent to know when it is best to keep children home, and when it is best to send them to school so they don’t miss important learning.
According to the CDC, every year kids lose a total of 22 million school days in the United States because of the common cold. When kids stay home, often parents must miss work or pay for a babysitter, which disrupts the whole family’s workweek. Help your children miss as few school days as possible by knowing when to send them on the bus, and when to keep them home so they can recover.
Signs Sick Children Need to Stay Home
In general, children who are sick enough to be a distraction in class, who will not be able to stay awake or focused throughout the day, or who risk infecting other children should be kept at home for at least 24 hours. Keep children home if they have any of these symptoms:
- Fever over 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit
- Severe, Disruptive Coughing
- Has been recently diagnosed with a contagious disease, like chicken pox, pink eye, strep throat, or the flu
- Are in a distracting amount of pain
Signs They Can Still Got to Class
Some mild illnesses and conditions are not painful or contagious enough to go to class. Though your child may not be in perfect health, sometimes a day at school can distract them from their discomfort and prevent them from falling behind in their schoolwork. Give them appropriate medication and send them to school if they have:
- A mild ear infection
- A minor cold or sinus infection
- A low-grade fever (if the school allows it)
- A scratchy, somewhat sore throat with a cough
- A mild headache
- A rash that has been diagnosed as not contagious
Signs They Need to Go to Urgent Care
Sometimes, deciding if a child just needs rest or if you need to look up local to urgent care centers is also difficult. With young children and infants, urgent care centers are a good way to catch an illness early and prevent more missed days. Urgent care centers also have the added benefit of quick consultations without waiting to see a pediatrician and without the high stakes of an emergency room visit. Take sick children to urgent care if:
- She has a high fever, is exhausted and achy, and you suspect the flu
- She has a painfully sore throat, and you suspect strep
- She has red, inflamed eyes and you suspect pink eye
Remember: Check School Rules
Finally, daycare, preschools, and elementary schools all have different, specific rules and guidelines regarding child illnesses. Be sure to check with your school nurse to understand their policy, so that your children and her classmates can stay healthy and keep learning.