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When to Keep Your Child Home from School

School (or Child Care) and Illness: Should your child stay home?
Parents often have trouble knowing whether their child is too ill to go to school or the child care center. The following guidelines will help you decide.

Your child is too ill
Your child is too ill to go to school if he or she has any of the following symptoms:

  • Seems very tired and needs bed rest (this is common with flu symptoms).
  • Has vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Becomes short of breath or has an increase in wheezing during normal activity.
  • Has a cough that interrupts his normal activity.
  • Has a temperature above 100°F by mouth.
  • Has pain from earache, headache, sore throat, or recent injury.
  • Has yellow or green drainage from the eye(s).
  • Breaks out in a rash.
Your child has a fever
Your child should not go to school if his temperature is above 100°F. He may return to school 24-hours after his temperature is below 100°F and he is feeling better. 

Your child has a contagious disease
A contagious disease is one that can be spread by close contact with a person or object. Examples of contagious diseases are: chickenpox, the flu with vomiting and/or diarrhea, strep throat, and “pinkeye.” A disease is most often contagious 24 hours before the child shows signs of illness. It is very hard to prevent the spread of some germs, especially in a school classroom. Good hand washing is the best way help prevent the spread of germs.

  • Your child should stay home from school if he has a contagious disease in order to keep from spreading it to others.
  • If your child has chickenpox or strep throat, ask your doctor when he may return to school or childcare. Children who have active chickenpox should not return to school or childcare until all the lesions are dried and crusted. Children with strep throat should be on antibiotics for 24 hours and have no fever before returning to school or childcare.
  • When your child has been free of fever for 24 hours (without fever-reducing medicine such as Tylenol®), is feeling better, and has no other symptoms, he may return to school.
  • If an antibiotic medicine is prescribed for your child, be sure he has taken the medicine for at least 24 hours before returning to school. Remember – The antibiotic medicine should be taken as prescribed until it is all gone.

  • School is a child’s work. Attendance is a must for your child to be successful in school.
  • If your child’s illness or condition requires a doctor’s visit, please turn in a medical excuse to your child’s school upon returning.

Taken from Helping Hand, published by Children's Hospital

Spanish and Somali versions available here.