When to Keep A Child Home From School

School has started. The scholars are back to learning, and the germs are once again starting to spread.

When deciding whether to keep a child home from school, there are a few questions to consider.

Can your child make others sick?

Many illnesses are contagious. Children with a temperature of 100 degrees or more (oral or temporal) should stay home until fever-free for 24 hours.

This applies to influenza, as well.

Counting the time the fever is suppressed with a fever reducer does not count, because that treatment may only be hiding the fever.

Children with rashes accompanied by fever or behavioral changes should stay home.

Children with blisters in the mouth that make them drool may also be contagious.

Children who vomit two or more times should be out of school until this has stopped for 24 hours.

Those with diarrhea they cannot control or containing blood or mucus should also stay home.

Certain diseases have more exact criteria for staying home. Strep throat, bacterial conjunctivitis, and impetigo need to be treated with antibiotics for at least 24 hours before a child can return to school.

Pertussis (whooping cough) needs at least five days of antibiotics before the child is no longer contagious.

Scabies and lice should be treated before the child comes back to class.

For chickenpox, all of the pox should be crusted over and no new ones should appear before a child can return.

Can the child effectively participate in school with the current illness?

Those in pain with an earache, sore throat, headache or an acute injury may have trouble concentrating in class.

Those who are lethargic from illness or are having trouble breathing should stay home.

If a child has been up all night with coughing or in pain, she may be too tired to learn much and would benefit from staying home.

Will the child be disruptive to others because of the illness?

Those with heavy nasal congestion, wheezing or a frequent cough may be unable to learn or may make others around them have trouble learning.


These are some general guidelines, but there are always situations that do not readily fit into any of these categories.

When in doubt about whether to keep a child home from school, seek the advice of a health care provider.