Is Your Child Well Enough for School?

As kids return to school, chances are you’ll start to encounter runny noses and sore throats. As a parent, you’re often faced with the decision as to whether your child is well enough to go to school.

Before making such a decision, parents should consider how their child will be able to function in class, and if they are a danger to the other students.

If the child can’t concentrate or perform regular classroom duties because of illness, then he or she should be kept at home.

If there is concern the child’s illness might be contagious, then he or she should be kept at home for the safety of the other children. Here are some additional signs that a child is not healthy enough to be in the classroom.

  • Oral temperature of 100 degrees or more
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or nausea that make it difficult for the child to eat
  • Persistent cough
  • Rashes that are spreading or not improving
  • Open skin sores
  • Red draining eyes

In general, a child can return to school once his or her illness has been evaluated by a health care professional, and he or she has been symptom-free for 24 hours. For more specific illnesses, consider the following guidelines:

  • Strep, skin infections, pink eye: After being treated with antibiotics for 24 hours
  • Fevers: Temperature less than 100 degrees orally, without medications to lower fever, for 24 hours
  • Vomiting, diarrhea and nausea: Symptom-free for 24 hours, able to eat dinner the night before and breakfast the morning of school
  • Chickenpox: When all the scabs disappear and there are no new lesions – generally five to seven days
  • Injuries: After a child has been evaluated by a health care provider, although the child may need to be limited in certain activities
  • Lice: After treatment and changing clothes

There are many good resources to help parents make decisions on their child’s health. Ask your health care provider for recommendations on your child’s illness.

School district websites also provide information on specific policies and have helpful handouts for treatments. You can also find information on what illnesses are currently in your child’s school and how to contact the school nurse. He or she can administer treatment during the school day, and monitor your child’s condition. If in doubt, ask for help!