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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.

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