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When should I Keep My Child Home from School?


If your child becomes ill and doesn’t feel well enough to take part in school, as parents or guardians, you should keep your child home until the symptoms improve.  This also can help to prevent the spread of the illness to others at school.  These are some of the examples of when your child should be kept home:

  • Active vomiting
  • Active diarrhea – three or more times in six hours
  • The beginning of an airway infection (cold/cough/runny nose) [This is especially important for those who are unable to manage their own body fluids]
  • Extreme tiredness and/or lack of appetite
  • Fever with headache, body aches, earache, sore throat 
  • Undiagnosed or unknown rash (a rash that has not been seen or treated by a health care provider)
  • Any of the above symptoms with fever or chills
  • Untreated skin conditions such as impetigo, lice, scabies, or similar conditions
  • If antibiotic treatment is needed, your child should remain home for the first full 24 hours of medication (e.g., if your child has three doses perday ordered, then three doses must be given before the child returns to school)

If any symptoms change, worsen or don’t get better please call your health care provider. 

Your child can return to school when he or she is well enough to take part in school and has had no fever for 24 hours without medication (acetaminophen, Tylenol®, etc.).

When you have questions, please call your school nurse, school nurse practitioner, or health care provider for more information.


Common Student Complaints and What to do about them

Fever – The best way to check for fever is with a thermometer.  No child with a temperature over 100 should be sent to school.  Your child needs to be fever –free for 24 hours (without fever-reducing medicine like Tylenol or Advil) before returning to school.

Mild cough/Runny nose - If there is no fever, and your child feels good, school is fine.

Bad Cough/ Cold Symptoms –Children with bad coughs need to stay home, and possibly see a doctor.  It could be a severe cold or possibly bronchitis, flu, or pneumonia.  However, when the cough improves, and the child is feeling better, then it is back to school.  Do not wait for the cough to disappear entirely – that could take a week or longer! 

Sore throat- If your child complains of a slight sore throat and has no other symptoms, he/she may go to school.  If white spots are in the back of the throat or if a fever is present, keep him/her home and call the doctor.

Rash – May be the first sign of one of childhoods’ many illnesses, such as chicken pox or measles.  A rash or “spots” may cover the entire body or may appear in only one area.  Please do not send a child to school with a rash or skin eruption until your doctor has said that it is safe to do so.

Stomachache, vomiting, or diarrhea –Consult your doctor if your child has a stomachache that is persistent or severe enough to limit his/her activity.  If vomiting occurs, keep your child home until he/she can keep food down.  A child with diarrhea should be kept home.  Call your doctor if prompt improvement does not occur.

Tooth pain – Consult your dentist.

Ear pain – Consult your doctor immediately.

Headache – A child whose only complaint is a headache usually does not need to stay home.

Does my child have the flu?

The flu can be serious. If your child is at high risk for flu complications please contact your physician at the first sign of flu symptoms. Individuals at risk include those who are pregnant, have asthma or diabetes, have compromised immune systems, or have neuromuscular diseases. Symptoms of flu typically come on suddenly and can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Dry cough