When to Keep Your Child Home

Sherri Lapp, Kennedy School Nurse


Attendance in school fosters social, emotional and academic development, but children need to be healthy in order to learn and to be safe. School success is promoted when children are ready and able to learn. Children who are not feeling well are at greater risk for accidents and injury. Effective prevention of illness–adequate rest, nutrition, hydration, and “down-time” and reinforcement of good hand hygiene, is essential for health. In order to help parents support the health and the well-being of their own children and the school community, the following guidelines are offered to help you make decisions about when to keep your child home.

Elevated temperature is an indication that a child is ill and could be contagious. A child with fever needs rest and hydration and should stay home. Children must stay home a full 24 hours past the first normal temperature (without fever reducing mediation) before returning to school, and feel well enough to fully participate in the program.

A child with skin rash of unknown origin or any rash accompanied by fever needs to remain home. Contacting a physician is recommended with rash illnesses in school age children as they may be a symptom of a communicable illness. A note clearing the child to return is required from the medical provider after evaluation for rash illness.

A child who vomits two or more times in a 24-hour period needs to remain home. They may return once tolerating a normal diet and remaining symptom free for 24 hours.

If your child has two or more loose or watery stools, they need to stay home. They may return once tolerating a normal diet and remaining symptom free for 24 hours.

Sore throats with swollen glands and fever need medical evaluation. Fever is not necessary for strep throat and often strep is accompanied by any combination of sore throat, nausea/vomiting, headache, stomachache and “strawberry tongue”. A rash may or may not be present.

A child with a persistent cough that would be disruptive to the learning process should remain home. A cough can be a symptom of a variety of medical conditions and, if persistent, should be evaluated by a physician. Cough in asthmatic children should be evaluated by a medical provider before coming to school. Cough is a sign of exacerbation of asthma and possible need for additional medication coverage.

Children with crusty, weepy, red eyes that might be signs of conjunctivitis (pink eye) need to stay home and see the doctor to be cleared with a note that they may return to school.

A child who appears unusually lethargic, tired, pale or has decreased appetite, unusual inexplicable irritability, or “just isn’t themselves” may need to have a day of rest at home.

  • When antibiotics are prescribed your child must complete a full 24 hours of doses before returning to school. They must also be fever-free (without fever reducing medications) and well enough to participate in the entire school day.

  • If there are signs of breathing difficulty, wheezing, or if nebulizer treatments have been administered within the last 12 hours, the child most likely should remain home until symptom free. A physician should be consulted any time there is an increase in asthma symptoms. Notify school nurse of exacerbations (worsening) of asthma and changes or addition of medications.
  • Persistent abdominal pain (continuing more than 2 hours) or intermittent pain associated with a fever requires consultation with a physician and rest at home.
  • A child with a need for more care than is appropriate for the school Health Office or class room, or an illness that could compromise the health and safety of other students, requires that the child remain home.
  • When a child has any condition or injury that would prevent them from participating comfortably and safely in activities they should remain home.
  • Always call the school nurse when your child has been diagnosed with a communicable disease, has had an injury, has been prescribed medication or requires accommodations due to health concerns.
Thank you for supporting the school community by helping to create a healthy and safe environment that promotes student success and assures our children are ready and able to learn.

The Health Office
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2022 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.