Depending on their symptoms, when your child should stay home from school and when they can return
It’s 7 a.m. on a school day and your child has the sniffles, fever or a stomachache. Do you send them to school?
In the past, this decision was often based on if the child would feel OK enough to participate at school. But with COVID-19 and respiratory illnesses spreading, parents and caregivers should take extra precautions.
Symptoms to watch for to keep your child home from school
|Symptom||Stay home if||Go back to school after|
|Cough and other cold symptoms||– Your child feels too sick for regular activities.|
– The cold kept them up the night before and they are groggy.
– Symptoms are accompanied by other COVID-19 or respiratory illness symptoms like shortness of breath and fever.
|– Cough decreases and your child feels better. |
– Your child knows to cough in their elbow and wash their hands to avoid spreading germs.
|Eye discharge||– Your child has any kind of eye discharge, for they may have conjunctivitis (pink eye) which is highly contagious.|
– If yellow or green pus appears, call your doctor.
|– The amount of pus decreases and your child has used antibiotic eye drops for at least 24 hours.|
– Your doctor gives you the OK.
|Fever||Your child has temperature 100.4°F or more.||Their body temperature reaches normal.|
|Influenza||As soon as you suspect influenza symptoms like fever, vomiting, sore throat, etc.||– Fever has been gone for 24 hours without medication.|
– Influenza symptoms have subsided.
|Headache||Your child has a headache with throbbing, severe pain, moodiness, fatigue and sensitivity to light.||– Taking pain medication for a milder headache.|
– Your child feels well enough to participate at school.
|Sore throat||– Your child has a sore throat.|
– If your child’s sore throat is accompanied by other cold symptoms like fever, cough or congestion.
– See your doctor if your child’s sore throat is accompanied by headache, fever or abdominal pain, (without cold symptoms) to rule out strep throat.
|– 24 hours after beginning antibiotics for strep throat.|
– Cold or influenza symptoms have subsided.
– Your doctor gives you the OK.
|Stomachache||Your child is vomiting or has uncontrollable diarrhea.||Vomiting stops and your child has control of their bathroom breaks.|
You know your child best! Error on the side of caution when determining whether to keep your child home from school, especially during cold and influenza season when illnesses are spreading rapidly. Make sure your follow your school’s policy for sick children.
This list is not intended to replace medical advice from your pediatrician. Be sure to consult your doctor about symptoms and treatments for your child.
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How to prevent and treat respiratory illnesses this season
Unfortunately, many kids get infected with respiratory illnesses in the fall and winter seasons. CHOC experts highly encourage all eligible members of households to receive their annual flu shots. Other preventative measures like good hygiene and staying home when sick can help protect families from illness. The following articles and guides provide more information.
From babies to teens, pediatricians from CHOC’s Primary Care Network partner with parents to offer immunizations, sick visits, sports physicals and more.