How to Know When Your Child Is Too Sick for School

Your child has the sniffles and their forehead feels warm. Should they stay home today?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children don’t attend school or childcare if:

  • Their illness keeps them from participating comfortably in activities.
  • Their illness requires a level of care teachers or childcare providers are unable to provide.
  • Their illness could be contagious.

If your child has a cold or a cough, they are likely well enough to attend school or childcare, as long as they do not have a fever. If your child does have a fever but otherwise feels fine, check with your school or childcare center’s policy. Some places require children to wait at least 24 hours after a fever has broken without the use of medicine or after they have vomited before returning to school or childcare.

No Exceptions

Children who appear severely ill and have the following symptoms should always stay home from school or day care:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash with a fever

If your child experiences any of these signs of illness, contact her pediatrician.

Vacc to School

Teenagers who recently started college should be up to date on all of their vaccines. Living in close quarters in dorm rooms can allow germs, particularly cold and flu germs, to spread more easily.

Every college student should get an annual flu vaccine, and parents should make sure teens have also received both doses of the meningococcal vaccine. This vaccine protects against meningococcal disease, which can turn into meningitis, inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord. People between ages 15 and 21 and those who live in close quarters are particularly vulnerable to this disease.

Children should receive the first dose of the meningococcal vaccine at ages 11 or 12 and a booster at age 16. If your child did not receive the first dose, he can still receive the vaccine until he is 18 years old.

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