It’s back-to-school time, so it may not be long before you’re faced with that dreaded question: Is my child’s tummy ache or runny nose reason enough to keep him or her home from school?
“It’s a tough call for parents,” said Jennifer Tidroski, DO, Pediatrician at YRMC PhysicianCare’s Ponderosa Pediatrics in Prescott. “They want their child to be healthy and able to learn, but they also don’t want him or her to fall behind in school.”
When there are active outbreaks of flu, parents need to be especially vigilant. The Ponderosa Pediatrics team recommends keeping children home when they’re experiencing respiratory symptoms such as coughing, a runny nose, or sore throat along with a fever. They can return to the classroom after their temperature is normal without the help of fever-reducing medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
Even when there’s no flu outbreak, strep throat, chickenpox or rubella are illnesses that should keep kids at home. Also, it’s important for children to remain home if their symptoms include difficulty breathing, a fast-spreading rash, fever above 101°, diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal pain.
“If these symptoms don’t alleviate in 24 hours, you should contact your child’s pediatrician,” Dr. Tidroski said. “And, always make sure you child remains hydrated with a liquid electrolyte solution you can find at the grocery or drugstore.”
Here are a few other helpful guidelines to consider. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents keep children home from school if their illness:
- Prevents them from participating comfortably in school activities.
- Requires care that is greater than staff members can provide without compromising the health and safety of other children.
- Poses a risk of spreading harmful disease to others.
“If parents are unsure about whether their child is well enough to go to school, especially during flu season, we recommend they err on the side of caution,” Dr. Tidroski said. “This will help your child recover and prevent him or her from spreading illness to other children.”