How to Know If You Should Send Your Sick Child to School

The morning starts off with the usual rush, getting yourself ready for work and making sure that your children are dressed, fed and packed for the school day. And then it happens: “Mom, Dad, I don’t feel good.” As your mind races to the list of all of the things you need to rearrange and possibly cancel, take a step back.

Go to school or stay home? 5 ways to know.

  1. Cindee J. Ivker, MD, FAAP

    Does he or she have a fever? A fever is a temperature over 100.5 F. That is an automatic keep-out-of-school. And a child needs to have no fever without the use of fever reducers for 24 hours before they can return to school and full activity. (We’ve written a blog about fever which you can read here.)

  1. Is your child eating and drinking? A lack of appetite, as well as vomiting and diarrhea, are also reasons to keep your child out of class. While they might “feel ok,” kids’ ability to get to the bathroom when urgently needed may be difficult and truly embarrassing if an incident were to occur.
  1. Have you gotten any school notes about sick students? While sometimes alarming, those notes are an indicator of some of the illnesses circulating in the classroom or school. A sore throat and stomach ache may be a sign of strep throat. Discharge from the eye may be a sign of conjunctivitis or pink eye. Be aware and be prepared. A child with something other than a virus requires 24 hours of antibiotic treatment before returning to school.
  1. What should you do at home? Help the healing process. Get your child to rest and have limited activity. Encourage fluids to help with hydration. Monitor your child’s body temperature and consult with your pediatrician as to the proper management of a fever.
  1. When should you call your pediatrician? We encourage you to call us when you have a question or concern. If your child has a fever that is not responding to the recommended dosing and administration of fever reducers, CALL. If your child is not tolerating fluids by mouth, and you notice that their diapers are dry or that they’re not urinating, this may be a sign of dehydration. If your child becomes irritable or cranky or difficult to awaken, CALL.

Got questions or concerns? Please contact us

Consulting with your doctor about any symptom or concern you have is important. The pediatricians of Northwell Health Physician Partners/Cohen Children’s Medical Center are here to help you and your child get better and get back on track. Whether you have newborns, toddlers, adolescents or teenagers, adolescents, we’ve got years of experience helping parents take care of their children and we’re here to help you with yours. Please call us at (914) 232-1919.

Want to know more about whether to send your child to school or keep him/her at home? Call or come see us.

If you’re not sure which is the best course of action, please call us at (914) 232-1919 to see one of our Westchester Health pediatricians. We’ll examine your child, possibly perform some tests (such as strep throat or flu), and based on the results, determine how to help your child get well and feel better as soon as possible. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

By Cindee J. Ivker, MD, FAAP, Lead Pediatric Physician with Westchester Health, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners

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