When to Keep a Child Home From School

Where there are children gathered, there are usually germs.

Schools are no exception. A sick child is not only more likely to make others sick — he may not feel like learning.

Here are some general guidelines for when to keep a sick child home.

* Any child with a temperature of 100 degrees F or greater (oral or temporal) should stay home from school. She should be kept home until fever-free for 24 hours.
Giving a fever reducer to lower the temperature does not count, since it only masks the fever.

* Any child who had vomiting or diarrhea the previous night should stay home.
So should a child who has vomited two or more times in the last 24 hours. A child with diarrhea containing blood or mucus should also stay home.

* Any rash accompanied by a fever or behavioral changes should be a reason to stay home from school.
A child with blisters in the mouth that make him drool should be absent that day.

* Children with heavy nasal congestion, a frequent (disruptive) cough or wheezing should stay home.
Any child who is lethargic or having trouble breathing will certainly not feel like learning much at school.

* Those diagnosed with a contagious disease should stay home until they are no longer contagious.
Strep throat, impetigo and bacterial conjunctivitis should be treated for at least 24 hours with antibiotics before the children who have these infections return to school.

Those with pertussis need at least five days of antibiotics before they are no longer contagious.

For those with chickenpox, all of the lesions (pox) should be scabbed over, and no new ones should appear before they can return to school.

Children with influenza should be fever-free for at least 24 hours.

Those who have scabies can come back to school after they have had one treatment for the disease.

Certain steps can be taken to help stop the spread of contagious diseases in schools (besides keeping contagious children home).

* Good hand washing practices should be encouraged.
Supplies of soap, paper towels and water should be made available to this end.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can also be used. Classroom materials can be cleaned and disinfected.

* Vaccination against influenza (the flu) is also a good idea.
Educating students and teachers about how diseases are spread and how to prevent this spread can also be very helpful.