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When Should I Keep My Child Home from School Due to Illness?

Published in Pediatrics, For the Health of It Author: David Kruse,MD

Some people might think fall is the best of all, but with it also comes the dreaded cold and flu season. As kids are back in school, they’ll soon be swapping stories of their summer adventures — and germs. Here’s what you should know about keeping your child home from school due to illness.

Most schools and childcare facilities will have policies related to absences due to illness. You should first check with your child’s school or daycare provider and familiarize yourself with their guidelines.

Typically, you should keep your child home until they’ve been fever free for 24 hours without the use of medication. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a fever is when a person has measured a bodily temperature of at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

What if your child is showing the beginning signs of an illness? If you’re worried your child’s condition might worsen throughout the day, here’s what you should look for when deciding if you should keep them home.

  • Does your child have a fever? If the answer is yes, then you should keep your child home.
  • Is your child vomiting? If so, keep your child home until the vomiting has subsided for at least 24 hours.
  • Is your child acting lethargic? It is best to keep them home and make an appointment to see your child’s primary care provider.
  • Does my child have diarrhea? If yes, keep your child home for at least 24 hours after diarrhea has stopped.
  • Does your child have a persistent cough that won’t go away? Your child can go to school with minor cold symptoms but anything severe or persistent may disrupt the class. You should make an appointment to see your child’s pediatrician.
  • Is your child complaining of any pain in their ear, head, or eyes? If the answer is yes, you should keep them home and make an appointment to see their primary care provider.
  • Does your child have a rash or drainage of any kind? If the answer is yes, you should keep your child home and make an appointment to see their primary care physician.
  • Is your child showing signs of COVID-19? This would include symptoms such as a cough, fever, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea. You should keep your child home and make an appointment to get tested at your primary care clinic.

If you have questions regarding keeping your child home from school due to illness, reach out to your child’s primary care provider.