This post is part of my Wellness Wednesday series brought to you in sponsored partnership with Aurora Health Care.
Being a parent means having to make decisions – thousands of them it seems – everyday. Honestly, when I hit my breaking point, it’s usually the constant decision making that pushes me over the edge. It gets to the point where I can’t even deal with deciding what to make for dinner! It’s one of those things about being a parent that no one tells you ahead of time.
Trying to decide if Josh is too sick to go to school or not is always a challenge. Ironically, most parents have the issue of their kids wanting to stay home for just a sniffle. I have the opposite problem – Josh wants to go to school no matter what! (I know – whose kid IS this?!?) Either way, as parents we need to be the voice of reason when deciding if kids should go to school or not. I’ve royally messed this up both ways: insisting that Josh stay home and then watching him bounce all over the house because he is perfectly fine AND insisting that he go to school and getting that your-kid-threw-up-in-the-classroom call. We’ve all been there, right?
Basically, there are three things you should consider when making the decision on whether or not your child should stay home from school according to the experts at Aurora Health Care.
First, does your child have a fever?
A fever is a sign that the body is fighting something and it needs support, like additional rest and fluids. Medical experts explain that a fever is defined as any reading over 100 to 100.4 degrees. Most schools have a policy that students cannot attend if they have a fever and should really stay home until they have been fever free for 24 hours. (Check your own school’s handbook to see their specific instructions on this.) This makes it easier for me to convince Josh to stay home when he says he really isn’t feeling “that bad”. I just explain that it’s not up to me – it’s the school’s rule. Of course, you are the best judge of what is best for your child. If they are measuring in at 99.9 degrees and just not acting like themselves, you are perfectly justified in keeping them home.
Is your child well enough to benefit from going to school?
There have been times when Josh hasn’t had a fever, but had such a bad cold that I knew he was going to be miserable and not get anything out of being at school. Plus, having to get up and blow his nose every two minutes was going to be distracting to his classmates and probably annoy the teachers. I might keep him home where he can get additional rest and really pound the fluids.
Is your child contagious?
I’m going to address this one from the teacher’s point of view. (You might recall me saying I was an elementary teacher for 8 years.) Sending a sick child to school exposes everyone they come into contact with to whatever bug they have. My very first year of teaching, I had what seemed like a constant cold, strep throat four times, several sinus infections, two bouts of bronchitis and even chicken pox. I’m not saying that the kids were to blame for all of those – obviously I needed my immune system to adjust and get a bit stronger – but when I am making the call on whether to keep Josh home or not, I think of how I felt when I saw obviously sick kids coming in to school. I watched stomach bugs go through my classroom like a wave – those were not fun days, believe me.
As with most things parenting-related, the final call comes down to what you feel is best for your child. Trust your gut as you know your child better than anyone. For more information, check out Pediatrician Dr. Jenny Thomas’s discussion with my friends over at Fox6!!
robin rue says
I have sent my kids with low-grade fevers before. I have this weird thing where I spike random fevers for no reason and it looks like my kids have it, too.
Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says
Our kids always go to school if they don’t have fevers. Okay, not always. If they really, really, REALLY look punky with no fever, we’ll let them stay home.
Bill Sweeney says
We usually only let our kids stay home if they have a fever. On the off chance that they DO look like walking death without a fever, we’ll let them stay home. When they do stay home, I let them do whatever, which is usually play video games all day. I don’t see any need to punish them for being sick. LOL
Catherine Sargent says
If my son had a fever, I always kept him home. If he didn’t have a fever and it wasn’t a stomach bug, I always made him go. If he started feeling too bad, he could always call for me to pick him up early.
We homeschool so we don’t have this decision to make. I can’t imagine deciding when sick is too sick.
Marcie W. says
These are all excellent points for parents to keep in mind. If my kids have a fever, they are definitely staying home. I also base my decision on their physical appearance and breakfast appetite.
Toni | Boulder Locavore says
These are great points. I always keep my kids at home when they have a fever.
Pam Wattenbarger says
It can be hard to decide when your kid is too sick for school. A fever is a definite no go for us.
My kids get upset if they can’t go to school, so if they tell me they don’t feel well enough to go, I let them stay home. If they are running a fever, we have guidelines that they can’t return until they are fever free for 24 hours.
AnnMarie John says
It’s definitely up to you to decide but it’s important to make sure that you’re also not exposing the other children to whatever virus your child has. These are very good questions to ask.
Yolanda Christopher says
My son has been dealing with a chronic cough for months. And after rounds of antibiotics, asthma meds, and a ton of side eyes from his teacher we finally discovered his allergic to dust mites. So in between all that I had many days were I was torn whether to send him or not.
travel blogger says
Great tips! It can be so hard to gauge just how sick they are sometimes, but it is important to let them get the rest they need while preventing other kids from getting sick. When I was a kid, we had to go to school no matter what because both my parents worked.
Liz Mays says
These are such important things to consider. The common cold can really sweep through a school quickly. Sometimes a little extra rest can go a long way and our school usually allowed us to pick up homework for the kids.
Angela Milnes says
If it’s contagious at all, keep them home. Yes, it might stink but it’s not worth spreading it to other kids.
Wendy Polisi says
It really depends on how sick they look. I am no stranger to the old sick day.
I choose them to go unless they have a fever or doctors order. Attendence is such a big deal, its a problem missing any days.
Home school is more popular than ever. I think its a great idea for parents who have the time and want to teacher their kids beyond the standard structurization of regular schooling.
I chose to keep my little one home today. I teach and no sub has called in. I still chose to stay home. He’s sick, I can’t send him in like that, and I won’t. He needs to rest. It’s definitely a call of the moment thing though, that can vary from situation to situation.
Carol Cassara says
Those are good questions for parents to ponder on. I don’t have a child but it’s definitely important to make sure that your child can get through the day and not infect any of his or her classmates while he’s or she’s there.
What an important post I wish all parents would read! My kids have so many sick kids in their class and it’s making me crazy!
Shannon Gurnee says
As long as our kids don’t have fevers or didn’t throw up within 24 hours, we have them go to school. However, they always know that if they’re feeling sick at any point in the day, they can go to the office and I’ll come pick them up.
Aziel Morte says
If my son has sick I choose to stay him at home it’s important to have a good rest when you are sick