When should your child stay home from school?

  • Sending a sick child to school puts other children and staff members at risk of also getting sick. Please keep your child at home and make appropriate child care arrangements if he or she has any of the following symptoms:

    APPEARANCE, BEHAVIOR: Is your child unusually tired, pale, lacks an appetite, or is difficult to wake, confused, or irritable? That could be sufficient reason to keep a child home from school. Consult with your health care provider if you have concerns.

    COMMON COLD: Your child should stay home if he or she is feeling ill, has a cough that is disturbing his or her sleep, or is having a lot of nose and throat drainage. It’s safe to return to school when the symptoms have improved, when your child is feeling better, and when he or she does not have a fever.

    EYES: Stay home if thick mucus or pus is draining from an eye or if your child has “pink eye” (conjunctivitis). Consult a health care provider for a diagnosis and follow his or her directions.

    FEVER: Your child should stay home if his or her temperature is 100 degrees or higher, with or without any other symptoms. A child may return to school after being fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen.

    RUNNY NOSE OR COUGH: A child with a greenish nose discharge, a chronic cough lasting more than 10 days, or a cough with a fever should be seen by a health care provider. These conditions may be contagious and may require treatment. The student can return when the cough has lessened and the fever is gone.

    SORE THROAT: It’s especially important that your child stay home if he or she has a fever or swollen glands in his or her neck. Your child may return to school 24 hours after treatment has started and if he or she is feeling better.

    VOMITING: Your child should stay home if he or she has vomited within the past 24 hours. Your child can return when he or she has not vomited for at least 24 hours.

    DIARRHEA: Your child should stay home if he or she has had watery stools within the past 24-hour period, especially if he or she acts or looks ill. Your child can return when he or she has been diarrhea-free for at least 24 hours.

    RASH: A body rash, especially with fever or itching, is enough reason to stay home from school. Consult a health care provider for a diagnosis and follow his or her directions. Diaper rashes, heat rashes, and allergic reactions are not contagious.

    EAR INFECTIONS: Children with ear infections without fever do not need to be excluded from school, but the child needs to get medical treatment and follow-up. Untreated ear infections can cause permanent hearing loss.

    LICE, SCABIES: Health officials tell us that head lice do not pose a health hazard and are not easily spread in a classroom, but they still must be effectively treated. A child found to have head lice at school will not be sent home and excluded from class on the day the lice are found. His or her parents will be expected to treat active cases of head lice, however, and the student will be asked to stay home until the treatment is completed. Your school nurse or other health care professional can help with diagnosing head lice and can offer suggestions about treatment.

    ANTIBIOTICS: If your child has an illness requiring antibiotics, such as strep throat, he or she can return to school 24 hours after the antibiotics treatment has been started and the child no longer feels ill.

    While we regret any inconvenience it may cause to have a sick child at home, in the long run it will mean that students will be stronger, healthier, and happier.