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Should You Send Your Child to School or Keep Them Home Sick?

  • Category: Blogs
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  • Written By: Avery Marczynski
Should You Send Your Child to School or Keep Them Home Sick?

Between colds, coughs, and stomach bugs, kids get sick frequently. At the beginning of the school year, sickness tends to skyrocket as kids are back to spending much time together. Symptoms like a runny nose or a stomach ache can fall into a gray area when deciding if you should keep your child home from school for a day or two, while a high fever is a much more apparent symptom for staying home and resting. Most schools and daycare facilities have sick policies regarding when to keep your child home, but it's important to identify your limits to protect your family's safety. 

UF Health St. JohnsPrimary Care Physician Dr. Elizabeth Looney Di shared a few tips on how to know when it's time to keep your little one at home or when it's safe for them to be around others.

  1. Fever above 100.4
  • A fever above 100.4 indicates that your child must stay home. Rest, fluids, and fever-reducing medicine like Tylenol (or Motrin if your child is older than six months) are essential to help your child heal. "Not only do these medications help bring the fever down, but they will help your child feel better so they are more inclined to eat, drink and rest well," Dr. Di says.  In many cases, they shouldn't return to school until they are fever free for 24 hours without any medication. 
  1. Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach bugs are highly contagious, so it is best to keep your child home if they are experiencing extreme nausea and vomiting. Fluids and rest are also suitable for this, and a trip to the pediatrician may be necessary if they cannot keep light food and liquids down.
  1. Respiratory diseases
  • Respiratory diseases like the flu, severe colds, and COVID-19 are easily spread. If your child has tested positive for the flu or COVID-19 or is experiencing a severe cold with a fever, they should stay home until they are fever-free for 24 hours.
  1. Mild cold and congestion
  • If your child has a runny nose or minor congestion, typically, it is safe for them to go to school and be around other kids without spreading infection.  Dr. Di's advice is simple in this case: Emphasize the importance of hand washing to your child.  This will help them stay healthy if others around them are sick and prevent the spread of infection to students and household members if they are the ones carrying the cold.

If you are on the fence about what is best for your child, call your Primary Care Physician. It's better to be safe than sorry about their and other children's health at school or daycare. Contact UF Health St. JohnsPrimary Care at Greenbriar at 904.819.1006 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Looney Di.