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How to Tell if Your Child is Too Sick for School

As a parent, you face a tough decision every time your child doesn’t feel well: Should they go to school or stay home? This can be a particularly tough decision if you’re a working parent and either have to stay home or arrange for childcare. 

In this blog, Gina Labovitz, MD, FAAP, at Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics provides four questions you can ask to help you decide if you should keep your child at home.

1. Is your child running a fever?

A fever is a surefire sign that your child should stay home from school. Any temperature of 100.4°F or higher is considered a fever, and most schools say that children shouldn’t attend classes until they’ve been naturally fever-free ― meaning no fever-reducing medicines ― for 24 hours. This is because fevers usually indicate a contagious illnesses. 

2. Is it contagious?

In general, if it’s contagious, your child should stay home. Don’t endanger other children — and teachers — by sending a contagious child to school. Common contagious conditions in children include pink eye, the flu, colds, strep throat, chickenpox, and hand, foot, and mouth disease.

3. Is there vomiting or diarrhea?

You should never send your little one to school if he or she is feeling nauseous, vomiting, or having diarrhea. Not only will it just be a miserable day for your child, but it won’t be fair to those who would have to take care of your child.

Let the bug run its course and give your child a sick day or two so they can easily get to the bathroom when needed. If vomiting or diarrhea persists for more than a day or two, call Dr. Labovitz to schedule a sick visit

4. Is your child having a hard time with normal activities? 

Even if your child doesn’t show any visible or audible symptoms of illness — such as coughing, wheezing, watery eyes, runny nose, or vomiting — they may still be having a rough go of it. If your child is having extreme difficulty with normal activities, such as waking up, getting dressed, or eating, consider allowing them a sick day. 

Children can get tired and burnt out just like adults, and extreme lethargy can be a sign that your child needs a rest. Your child may not be able to articulate the way they feel, so pay attention to their energy levels. If extreme lethargy continues for more than a day or two, make an appointment with Dr. Labovitz.

If your child is sick or if you’re unsure if they are, book an appointment online or over the phone with Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics so Dr. Labovitz can give them a thorough evaluation and get them feeling better.

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