A parent's guide: When to keep your sick kid home from school

January 26, 2017
in Kids

In a perfect world, kids would never get sick, and they'd never miss a day of school. But it's not a perfect world. Kids get sick all the time, and they love to share their nasty little germs with everyone around them, especially this time of year. It's not uncommon for children to get viral illnesses 10 to 12 times per year, and these symptoms can last a week or more. When kids are sick, parents are faced with a difficult decision: Send the children to school or day care, or keep them home? This can be such a tough decision because there are a lot of conflicting priorities to consider. We all want our children to feel better and recover quickly, and we don't want them to get other kids sick. But we also want them in school so that their education doesn't suffer - and so that we don't have to miss work or struggle to find last-minute child care. It's not always an easy call, but here are some things to consider from a medical perspective: How sick is your child? Some kids are sick enough - such as those with difficulty breathing, changes in consciousness or severe abdominal pain - that they clearly need medical attention. Depending on the severity, that may mean a trip to your pediatrician's office, an ER visit or even a hospital stay. In these cases, the decision tends to be pretty easy. School takes a back seat until things improve. It's the milder cases that are trickier: The child doesn't necessarily need medical help, but a parent still isn't sure whether the young one should stay home. Can your child participate in the activities at school? Kids go to school to learn. If your child is so uncomfortable, sleepy or otherwise distracted that he wouldn't be able to get anything out of school, it may be better to keep him home. In some cases, children are fine to sit in class but may have trouble with gym or other demanding activities. In those cases, a note from your doctor asking for temporary accommodations may be helpful. Will your child's day care or school be able to care for her? Sometimes a sick child requires more care than the teachers or staff can reasonably provide. Sending her off probably wouldn't be in her best interest and wouldn't be fair to the other children. That's a good reason to keep a child at home. Will your kid get others sick? And if so, how big a deal would that be? The answer, even in mild cases, to the first question is probably yes,...

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