Should they stay or should they go?

Sick enough to stay home from school?by Edward Walton, M.D., Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Beaumont Children’s Hospital at Beaumont, Royal Oak

It’s a question many parents have to ask more often than they’d like – “Should I keep my child out of school today?” Fortunately, determining the answer can be simpler than you might think.

Should your child stay home sick from school?

For the well-being of the child and for the protection of classmates, your child should stay home from school or daycare if you can answer yes to any of the following:

  • Has she had a fever within the last 24 hours?
  • Is he dealing with vomiting or diarrhea?
  • Will the illness make her so miserable that she won’t be able to learn or effectively participate in school activities?
  • Could this illness potentially be contagious to others? (In times of uncertain, call your primary care physician.)

Much to the dismay of some children, this means that many common conditions do not require staying home from school. For example, having a simple cold or cough does not necessarily mean the child should stay, especially without a fever or other signs of illness.

Your child can go to school if he or she has any of the following conditions and feels well enough to participate in regular school activities:

  • bronchitis
  • canker sores
  • colds and coughs, without fever or other signs of illness
  • cold sores
  • croup
  • ear infection
  • fifth disease
  • hand-foot-and-mouth disease
  • MRSA, if child is only a carrier
  • pinworms
  • pneumonia
  • rash without fever or behavior change
  • red eye without yellow or green discharge, fever, or matting
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
  • roseola
  • thrush
  • warts, including Molluscum contagiosum
  • urinary tract infection
  • yeast diaper rash

Feel free to bookmark this blog and call it back up the next time you find yourself asking the question “should I send my child to school today?” or for the next time he or she tries to convince you to allow a day off.

Questions about your child’s health should be directed to your primary care physician. In an emergency, call 911.

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