Jul 26, 2014
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Too Sick for School?

It's cold and flu season and many parents, like me, agonize over whether or not to send their kids to school when they don't feel well. What do you think?

Too Sick for School?

Your child wakes up looking pale, sneezing, coughing and complaining of a sore throat. You take their temperature and it’s an even 99 degrees. He/she doesn’t look well; you can tell they feel awful. What do you do?

Our family follows the fever or vomit rule. You stay home if you have a fever or you’ve thrown up within the previous 24 hours. I don’t always obey rules and, to my husband’s dismay, I tend to break this particular one pretty often. He thinks I let my kids stay home too easily. I think I know my kids pretty well and know when they need to skip a day of school.

Regardless of the situation, I always question my decision to keep them home or send them off.

If I keep one of my girls home when they complain, I worry they are missing too much in school. I also end up with a nagging feeling they got one over on me and faked illness.

If I send them to school, I worry that they are suffering all day or sharing their germs with their classmates and teachers and possibly getting sicker as the day goes on.

I don’t think there are any easy answers to this common parental issue.

According to most doctors, children should be kept home from school when they have a fever of 100.4 degrees; when they are vomiting or have diarrhea; if they are experiencing persistent pain or have a bad, wet cough. The Cinnaminson School District's guidelines include all of the above, plus they ask that we keep our children home when there is any kind of unclear discharge coming from the nose, eyes, ears or mouth; or if they have any kind of rash. I agree with that one—rashes can be scary. They also ask that students stay home if they have a fever of 100 degrees.

They seem to be pretty good guidelines. If only everyone followed them!

I can’t tell you how many times my children have become sick after telling me that friends and classmates had fevers or stomach issues their parents knew about. I do understand that daycare for sick children is a problem for many working parents. I think it’s a real shame and I wish businesses would do something to help parents out, but that’s another topic for another day. If your kids are sick and you are able to keep them home, please do so.

So over the next couple of months, many of us will be nudged out of bed by a groggy voice saying, “Mom, I feel sick.”

What should we do?

Making that sick day call is a big decision and it is ultimately up to us as the parents. I think it’s smart to follow guidelines set by your school and listen to your own instincts.

Don't forget to remind your little angels that when they are home sick they can't play video games all day; or go outside and play; or participate in afterschool sports. If your child doesn't seem to care about any of that, that's usually a telltale sign they really are sick.

So stay healthy and stay strong. You know what's right for your kids.

And remember, stay home when you are sick!

Here are some sites with tips on evaluating how sick your child is and if he/she should attend school:

Parenting, BabyMed

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