skip to main content
Should I send my child to school? An informative document from the school nurse
Posted On:
Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Dear Parent/Guardian:


It is that time of the year once again when allergies, colds and viruses strike our children.  You don’t want your child to miss school, but neither do you want to send a sick child to school and endanger his or her health and other children as well.  When should your child stay home from school? Here are a few guidelines you should follow:

  • Fever is an important symptom; when it occurs with a sore throat, an earache, nausea, listlessness, or a rash, your child may be carrying something very contagious.  Most pediatricians advise parents to keep children home during the course of a fever, 100 or higher, and for an additional 12-24 hours after the fever has passed.  (State recommends fever free for 24 hours before returning to school)

  • A runny nose or “leaky faucet” is the way many children respond to pollen, dust, chalk, or simply a change in season.  If it isn’t a common cold, then it’s an allergy and allergies aren’t contagious. Don’t keep the child home.

  • A bad cough or cold symptoms can indicate a severe cold, bronchitis, flu, or even pneumonia.  Some children suffer one cold after another all winter long and a run-of-the-mill cold should not be a reason to miss school.  But if your child is not acting “right”, has difficulty breathing, or is becoming dehydrated, it could be serious. Check with your doctor right away.  If fever (greater than 100) is present, they need to stay home.

  • Diarrhea and vomiting make children very uncomfortable, and being near a bathroom becomes a top priority.  If your child has repeated episodes of diarrhea and/or is vomiting, accompanied by a fever, a rash, or general weakness, consult a doctor and keep your child out of school until the illness passes.  However, a single episode of diarrhea or even vomiting unaccompanied by any other symptoms, may not be reason enough for the child to miss school. BUT... Please make sure we know how to reach you or another responsible adult during the day, in case diarrhea and/or vomiting recurs and your child needs emergency attention.  (This is an important rule to follow whenever you send your child to school with any of the symptoms mentioned here).

  • Strep throat and scarlet fever are two highly contagious conditions caused by streptococcal (Bacterial) infection.  They usually arrive with a sore throat and high fever. Some 12-48 hours after the onset of scarlet fever, a rash will also appear.  A child with strep throat or scarlet fever should be kept home and treated with antibiotics, as prescribed by a physician. After 24 hours on an antibiotic, a child is usually no longer contagious and may- with a doctor’s permission- return to school if fever free.

          Chicken pox, a viral disease, is not life-threatening to children, but is very                         uncomfortable and extremely contagious.  If your child has a fever, is itching, and

begins to sprout pink or red spots (with “water” centers) on back, chest, and/or face, the chances are good it’s chicken pox.  Please tell us if it is; it is important that schools know this information. Keep your child home for at least a week from the time you first noticed the symptoms and at least two days after the last spot has appeared, whichever period is longer.

  • Conjunctivitis or pink eye is highly contagious and uncomfortable, so take heed when you child complains of an eye or eyes burning, itching, and producing  a whitish discharge. Minor cases (caused by a virus) and severe cases (caused by bacteria) require treatment with prescription eye drops.  Best to keep your child home until your doctor says it is all right to return.

  • Ear infections are also contagious and, unless properly treated, can cause permanent hearing damage.  Here again, you should follow the 24 hour rule for fever and antibiotic therapy.


Lori Case RN  (Health Services Department)




View all Latest News