How to Tell If Your Child Is Too Sick for School

misc image

How to Tell If Your Child Is Too Sick for School

Your child doesn’t feel well. Should you send them to school? This is a common dilemma for parents. 

Children get sick frequently; they get about 5-7 colds a year as compared to adults, who catch about 2-4 colds a year. That’s not surprising, considering your child is in close proximity to dozens of other children five days a week. 

Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish what’s best for your child: keeping them home or sending them to school if they’re ailing. 

If you kept your child home every time they catch a cold, they would miss quite a few school days. Does a runny nose or cough make them contagious or too ill to focus? Here are some situations that help guide you in knowing when to keep your child home from school. 

A fever over 100.4℉

If your child’s fever is over 100.4℉, they need to stay home. The fever means your child’s body is fighting an infection, and it’s most likely viral. Sometimes a bug is gone in a day or two, but a cold can often last up to a week. In children under 5, colds can often last up to two weeks

Your school most likely has guidelines on when your child should stay home. In any case, experts recommend keeping your child at home for one full day (24 hours) after the fever is gone. 

When your child is contagious 

Keep your child home if they have an illness that spreads to others easily. These viral or bacterial infections are usually obvious. 

If your child has a very sore throat, a severe headache, has drainage from the eye or a crusty substance on the eye, prolonged coughing or wheezing, pain in the ear, or a stomach virus that causes nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting, call our office for an appointment. 

These symptoms could mean your child has the flu, pink eye, gastroenteritis, or another contagious illness. 

When your child is weak 

If your child doesn’t have a normal energy level, it could point to the flu. It’s better to keep them home for a day and watch them to see if this is a precursor to something more. If they seem very weak, bring them to our office right away. 

Use your judgment

You know your child. If they’re not interested in eating and they usually eat breakfast, or if they look weak, pale, and have trouble getting out of bed, it may be wise to keep them home. 

If you have a teen, take their fever if they tell you they don’t feel well. If it’s normal and they have no cold symptoms or otherwise contagious symptoms, send them to school. 

Call Fairway Children's Medical Group for a phone consultation or a same-day appointment when your child is too sick to go to school, or request an appointment through our online portal for other types of appointments, such as physicals.