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Too Sick for School?

When Should a Child be Kept Home or Sent Home from School for Illness?

Parents often ask when a child should be kept at home or sent home from school for illness. Here are SIX reasons a child should stay home or be picked up from school as soon as possible.

1. Fever: If a child has a temperature of 100.5 degrees F or above (taken by mouth);  101 degrees or above (taken by ear); 99 degrees F or above (taken under the arm).

2. Two loose bowel movements: even if there are no other signs of illness.
Exception: This may occasionally be caused by new foods a child has eaten. Contact the school nurse to let her know about any non-medical reasons for the loose bowel movements.

3. Vomiting: Any vomiting is a reason to send a child home or keep a child home.
Exception: Sometimes children “spit up” due to coughing, sensitive stomach, etc. - this is not vomiting. Motion sickness (from use of play equipment or riding in a car or other vehicle) that goes away after motion stops would not be a reason to send a child home or keep a child home.

4. Rash: Any rash illness should be checked by a health care provider. Any fine red or blotchy rash on the face, trunk or arms and legs is a reason to send a child home or keep a child home. There are different rules for returning to school depending on the cause of the rash. A child with scarlet fever should be treated with antibiotics for 24 hours before returning to childcare or school.  If a health care provider diagnoses a child as having Fifth disease, the child does not need to stay home if s/he feels well.  Contact the school nurse if you have any questions.
Exception: Allergic rashes that are already known to the parent are not reasons to send a child home or keep a child home.

5. Crying and complaining for a long time:  Anytime a child is not herself or himself and is complaining about discomforts; or the child is cranky and crying more than usual.

6. Injury: Whenever an injury is serious enough to need a health care provider’s attention, a parent should be contacted to take the child home.

Caregivers should:

Isolate children if they have any of the above symptoms.

Wash hands well to prevent the spread of disease to caregivers and other children.

Use a paper towel to turn off faucets and open bathroom doors and then dispose of the paper towel in the wastebasket.

Encourage parents to keep children home if they are ill.


While not an emergency situation (no need to have the child picked up immediately), children with the following diseases should remain at home until successfully treated: impetigo, lice, pink eye, pinworms, ringworm, scabies, and thrush (candida).


This fact sheet is for information only and is not meant to be used for self -diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider.

For more information, call your health care provider, your school nurse Tina Varney, RN at 517-826-7114

or call Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph County Health Department at 517-437-7395.

Visit our website at: www.jonesvilleschools.org

Or the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention at: www.cdc.gov