When to keep your child home from school

August 22, 2017 | by Nina Lundberg, MD

Every parent knows this scenario: your little one wakes up after a seemingly normal night’s sleep feeling awful, complaining about a sore throat or coughing.

You’re left with the dilemma of trying to decide if your child should stay home from school — and making that decision in a relatively short period of time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids stay home if:

  • They have a fever
  • They aren’t well enough to participate in class
  • They may be contagious to other children

If they’re taking antibiotics, kids should stay home until they’ve had the medicine in their system for 24 hours, even if they don’t meet the above criteria.

If your child is vomiting or has diarrhea, she should stay home until she has had no symptoms for 24 hours. If they are running a temperature, most schools want kids to stay home until they haven’t had a fever for 24 hours as well.

Ultimately, your child’s physician is the best person to ask if you aren’t sure whether your child should go to school. But using common sense, along with the AAP guidelines, will ensure you make the right choice.

If your child is on the mend from being sick, but woke up feeling less than 100 percent (with a runny nose or minor headache), she can probably make it through a school day — again, if she doesn’t have the above criteria. Just make sure you are easily accessible should your child’s symptoms worsen during the day and you need to pick her up early.

Before illness strikes, be sure to go over disease prevention methods, such as proper (and frequent) handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and getting enough sleep, with your kids.

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