Keeping Your Child Home from School

Keeping Your Child Home from School

It’s 20 minutes to grab-your-backpack-and-get-out-the-door time and your child is complaining of a sick stomach. What’s a parent to do? Do you encourage him to rally and get ready or let him roll over and get more rest? It can be a tough call, particularly when the symptoms are subjective.

Experts with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advise sending a child to school only if he or she is well enough to learn. This means the child’s symptoms do not disrupt his or her ability to concentrate in class and do not distract classmates, according to Cindy Devore, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Council on School Health Executive Committee.

If you think your child might be faking an illness (or perhaps exaggerating symptoms), Dr. Devore recommends stepping back to consider the “total child”. Does he complain he doesn’t feel well right after a break from school? Have you noticed social isolation or mood swings that might suggest another reason he might want to avoid school?

Generally, AAP experts agree these symptoms may warrant a day at home or a visit to the doctor:

  • persistent temperature higher than 100.4° F
  • severe sore throat lasting more than 48 hours (especially when accompanied by fever)
  • significant rash (particularly when other symptoms are present)
  • large amounts of discolored nasal discharge
  • severe ear pain
  • uncontrolled cough
  • diarrhea
  • severe headache (especially with fever)
If your child does need to stay home, be sure to wait until symptoms have resolved for at least 24 hours before sending him or her back to the classroom.


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An Affiliate of Frederick Regional Health System

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