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Should Your Child Take a Sick Day?

By, Michelle Feeney, MSN, FNP

Knowing when to send your student to school or daycare and when to keep him or her home can be a tough judgment call—especially in the rush of a weekday morning. When you’re wondering how sick is too sick for school, a few general guidelines can help.


Knowing when to send your student to school or daycare and when to keep him or her home can be a tough judgment call—especially in the rush of a weekday morning. When you’re wondering how sick is too sick for school, a few general guidelines can help. 
 
Keep him or her home if:
  • He or she has a fever over 100 F measured orally or 100.4 F measured in the ear or on the forehead.
  • Other kids could get sick from being around your child.
  • He or she isn’t well enough to participate comfortably in activities, including outside recess. 
  • He or she requires more care than school staff can provide without compromising the safety and health of other children.

Other symptoms that warrant a sick day include:

  • Diarrhea and/or Vomiting within the last 24 hours
  • Abdominal pain for more than 2 hours, or with fever
  • Red eyes with discharge or mucus
  • Cough that is disruptive to your child or other students
  • Strep throat, until 24 hours after beginning antibiotic treatment
  • Abrupt behavior change, that includes irritability, constant crying, or lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Mucus or blood in the stools
  • Mouth sores with drooling, unless your child’s doctor has confirmed that he or she isn’t contagious
  • Lice, until after the first treatment with lice shampoo
  • Rash with fever or behavior changes, until your child’s doctor has confirmed that the illness is not contagious
  • Chickenpox, until all lesions have crusted or dried (typically 7-10 days after the rash appears)
  • Measles, until four days after the rash appears
  • Quickly spreading rash
If your child has not received their vaccinations and they develop a rash or swollen glands, consult with your provider before they attend school.

If you are unsure of your child’s symptoms, contact your child’s primary care provider for advice and to see if your child requires an appointment or urgent medical attention.

Michelle Feeney, MSN, FNP is a family nurse practitioner at Barton Family Medicine and Barton Pediatrics. To make an appointment with her, call (775) 589-8946.