Absences Add Up: Know When It’s Time for Your Child to Stay Home from School

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When to keep kids home from school


When is it time to keep a sick child home from school?

From runny noses to stomach viruses, children are susceptible to many ailments and are bound to catch something, and as parents, it can be hard to know when they are okay to attend school and when you should keep them home.

Here are four symptoms to watch out for that will help you decide if they should stay home:

1. Fever

A fever, meaning any temperature over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, is a sign of an infection and usually means your child is spreading germs. Do not send your child to school with a fever, even if Tylenol or Ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil) reduced the fever. After the fever breaks, your child can still be contagious and get their other classmates sick. If your child’s fever breaks and is gone for at least 20 hours without the help of ibuprofen or acetaminophen, then it is safe for them to return to school.

While a temperature of 99.9 or 100 degrees is not technically a fever, a school nurse might send your child home anyway. Go with your gut. If you child has a temperature of 99.9 and is acting ill, it might be in your child’s best interest to keep them home, keep them hydrated and make sure they get plenty of rest.

2. Sore Throat

Not every sore throat warrants a day home, but if it’s coupled with swollen glands, fever, headache or stomachache, your child may have strep throat and should be tested before returning to school. Call your child’s doctor to make an appointment and get tested. If they test positive, expect them to miss a day or two more of school. Most doctors recommend that your child take antibiotics for at least a full 24 hours before returning to class.

3. Persistent Coughing

It’s normal for a child to have a small cough, especially in the winter months, but if that cough is persistent, hindering their learning or affecting the sound of their breathing, it warrants a visit to the doctor.

4. Vomiting or diarrhea

No matter how healthy they may look, do not send your child to school if they are vomiting or if they have diarrhea. It’s better for your child, and for the school, if they stay home, rest and rehydrate. It is usually okay to send your child back to school if the symptoms have stopped for at least 20 hours. Check with your child’s doctor first because some viruses last longer, meaning your child may be contagious after symptoms stop.

If your child is showing any ot these symptoms, call their doctor to set up an appointment. The quickest way to get them back in their school desk is by effectively treating their symptoms.

If you need a pediatrician, Pediatric Medical Center is now accepting new patients. To make an appointment with Dr. Flechas, call (225) 769-2003.


About Dr. Michelle Flechas

Michelle Flechas, MD, was born in New Iberia, La., and raised in Baton Rouge. She earned her medical degree from LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans in 1993 and completed her residency in pediatrics in 1997. She is Board Certified in Pediatrics and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Flechas began her practice with Pediatric Medical Center in April 1997. Click here to make an appointment with Dr. Flechas.

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