Whether your child is sniffling, coughing or complaining of a sore throat, there’s a chance they are contagious. If your child has just come down with symptoms and you are unsure what the illness is, there are a few things to keep an eye on to determine whether or not your child should go to school or daycare.

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What You Should Consider

Before you determine whether or not your child should be in school, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  • Does your child look and feel normal? If your child’s illness is mild, such as a cold, and he or she is still active and without a fever, there’s a good chance it’s OK to send them to school. However, if your child is experiencing a high fever and is vomiting, it is usually best to stay home.
  • Can your child concentrate in the classroom? If your child seems run down or fatigued, even from something as minor as a cold, there’s a good chance he or she won’t be alert during class. Also, if your child isn’t able to sleep through the night, he or she would likely benefit from spending the day in bed to rest.
  • Is your child’s illness contagious to other children? There are certain illnesses known to be extremely contagious, including strep throat, conjunctivitis (pink eye), the flu and whooping cough. If your child is showing symptoms of any of these illnesses, he or she should definitely stay home from school.
  • Does your child’s school have rules around sickness? Some schools have rules about who can attend classes in case of sickness. If your child is experiencing signs of illness, check with their school or daycare to see what the rules are. Many schools will suggest children are free of fever for at least 24 hours without medication before returning to school.


Know Your Child’s Illness

Because each illness requires different recovery time, it’s important to determine what illness he or she could be suffering from. For instance, the illnesses that can be contagious typically require more time to recuperate than, say, a mild cold. If your child is feeling under the weather, read on to figure out his or her recovery time.

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Should Your Child Go To School With A Fever?

When your child has a fever, it is a sign he or she is fighting the germs that are making them sick. If your child’s fever is 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, they should be kept at home until the fever has subsided for at least 24 hours.


Is It OK To Send Your Child To School With Diarrhea?

Resulting from an infection, food poisoning or antibiotics, diarrhea can lead to dehydration if enough fluids are not consumed. If your child is suffering from diarrhea, he or she should be kept home until their stool is solid.


How Long To Keep Your Child Home After Vomiting?

Another way for your child’s body to rid itself of germs, diarrhea is normally caused by a stomach virus or infection. Keep your child at home if he or she has vomited more than two times in the last 24 hours. He or she should also not return until the symptoms have completely cleared up. 


Can Your Child Go To School With A Cough?

A serious cough may be symptomatic of whooping cough, viral bronchitis or croup. It may also be a sign of asthma or allergies. Because a cough can be contagious, your child should be kept at home when displaying this symptom.


When To Send Your Child To School With A Sore Throat

If your child has a sore throat, there’s a possibility it’s the common cold or strep throat. For a mild sore throat, it is OK for your child to go to school; however, if he or she has been diagnosed with strep throat, they should be kept at home for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotics.


Should Your Child Go To School With A Rash?

Because a rash may be a symptom of a contagious illness such as chickenpox, bacterial meningitis or an infection of the skin, it’s important that your child is properly diagnosed before returning to school. Typically a doctor will recommend your child’s symptoms subside first.


Can Your Child Go To School With A Headache?

While a headache can be a symptom of something much more serious, like the flu, meningitis or sore throat, it can also be something normal that we all experience from time to time. The recommendation is that your child can attend school as long as there are no other signs of illness.


What If Your Child Goes To School Sick?

If your child is displaying minor signs of illness, but is believed to be well enough to attend school or daycare, you should be reachable at all times. In some cases, children’s symptoms will worsen throughout the day and he or she may need to be taken out of class mid-day. If you have multiple phone numbers, such as a cell phone and office number, make sure your child’s school has all of them for easy contact.


Preventing Your Child From Getting Sick

While there’s no way to completely prevent your child from getting ill, you can teach him or her best practices to avoid sickness. According to WebMD, “An estimated 80% of infectious diseases are spread by touch.” Make sure your child washes his or her hands regularly and never shares utensils or cups with classmates. Always wash your child’s clothes after they’re done wearing them and keep countertops and high-traffic areas of the house wiped down constantly.


If your child is displaying any of the above symptoms, they should see a doctor to determine when it’s OK to return to school.

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Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.