When to Keep Your Sick
Child Home from Daycare, Nursery, or School Frank
Since we provide medical care for so many kids, we’re asked this
question at least a dozen times a week in our family medicine practice.
While there are no hard and fast rules about when to keep a sick child
home from school, over the last five years, more and more references can
be found in Pediatrics literature that hopefully will give you the
parent some loose guidelines to follow.
Contagious illnesses in schools, nurseries and daycare centers are usually passed from child to child by droplets suspended in the air from coughing and sneezing, direct contact with objects that have those droplets or “snot” deposited on them, or from hand contact with contaminated bowel movement. In defense of daycare centers and other schools, it’s virtually impossible to keep a child from coughing or sneezing on other kids or scratching his butt and handling toys before his hands can be washed. That’s why preventing the spread of childhood disease should start at home before the illness goes too far.
Medical reports clearly state that children should not be kept home from school for mild respiratory illnesses such as head colds without fever or a productive cough. However, you should use the following “guidelines” to judge the difference between mild and more severe illnesses.
You should not send your child to school if he or she:
There are many other signs of serious illness in children that we have not covered. Our advice is simply to use common sense in deciding whether your child acts “normal enough” to send him or her to school.
Hopefully you can use these rough guidelines to help decide when to keep your sick child home from school or daycare. Since you know your child’s normal appetite, how energetic he is, how often she urinates or poops, and how he or she ordinarily “looks” when not sick, you are the best judge of when to keep them home.
When our kids were in daycare, we developed a feel for when to keep them at home and trusted that other parents would do the same to avoid spreading diseases throughout the entire nursery and daycare population. I’m sure you’ll do the same, since I know that you would not do anything to place someone else’s child at risk of a contagious illness.
For further information, please see articles on “How to choose a daycare provider for your child” and “When can I send my sick kids back to school?”.Good luck in continuing to be a great parent!
These health tips are offered for your common sense use and are not intended to take the place of a visit to your doctor. Your use of the materials implies your understanding that nothing herein contained represents individual medical advice.
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