When to Keep Kids Home From School: 4 General Guidelines

kid at home sick

With winter break coming to an end, and routines setting back in, you might hear this phrase a bit more than usual during the adjustment period: “Mom, I don’t feel so good…”. Uh-oh, this is the last thing you want to hear any morning. You simply can’t miss another day of work and your kiddo has already missed four days of school.

But let’s face itkids get sick all the time and parents have to make a judgement call whether to keep kids home from school or encourage them to push through the day. Because you know your children best, your parental instincts are the best guide. But you should also check with the school or school nurse to see what their rules are. To help you make your decision, here are some general guidelines to follow:

Keep Kids Home From School When:

#1. They have something contagious like the flu, strep throat, chicken pox, measles, mumps, whooping cough, and other highly transmissible diseases.

#2. They have a fever. Keep in mind many schools and childcare centers require your child to be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school.

#3: They are vomiting, nauseous, or have diarrhea. There’s no point in encouraging your child to brave it out when they’ll be stuck in the bathroom all day.

#4: They are unusually lethargic and don’t have an appetite. This signals that they may have a bug coming on and need to rest at home.

It’s Not Necessary to Keep Kids Home From School When:

#1: They have colds, coughs, or pinkeye without fever.

#2: They have lice. This is surprising but true. According to the CDC, students diagnosed with live head lice do not need to be sent home early from school. Although head lice can be a nuisance, they aren’t known to spread disease. If parents treat the lice right away, it will minimize the risk of spreading to others.

#3: They have stomachaches without vomiting or diarrhea. Kids are prone to frequent stomachaches. This is when parents should use their best judgement to determine if the stomachache is severe enough to stay home. You can always send your child to school and tell them to go to the nurse if they’re still not feeling well. The nurse can help make an assessment.

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