Class day or couch day: Determining your child’s school absence due to illness

By Shaylie Meyer

APS Health Services Supervisor

With the winter cold and flu season imminent, you often hear advice for how to keep your family healthy. Unfortunately, even the most diligent hand-washers may become ill with cold or flu symptoms at some point, and you’ll be faced with the age-old question: when is it necessary to keep your child home from school?

Children are more likely than adults to get sick and spread germs and they experience longer recovery times, and yet, parents cannot discount the importance of their child’s school attendance.

Shaylie Meyer

It is recommended that you keep your child home when they have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea. These are indicators that your child is contagious and should minimize contact with others. Your child may return to school after they are symptom-free for a 24-hour period without the use of medications.

Masking symptoms with medications exposes others to illness and may even prolong the time your child is sick. Illnesses are generally the most contagious during the first few days. Besides the obvious indications of fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, it may be difficult to decipher your child’s symptoms to determine if they should attend school or stay home.

If your child experiences unusual tiredness with body aches, uncontrolled coughing, an unexplained rash, or a severe sore throat, they should stay home to allow for rest and a speedy recovery before they return to school.

As a caregiver to your young learner, you are the best judge of their needs. Children who are too ill to participate in learning activities in school are better assisted by taking a day or so to recoup so they may return to their classrooms healthy and ready to learn.

In the event you are having trouble deciphering your child’s illness and their ability to attend school, please call the school nurse. The nurse can be an excellent resource in determining if your child’s symptoms warrant time at home to recover. Also, when reporting your child’s absence, please detail the illness symptoms so the nurse can successfully track prevalent trends.

Help your child to recognize the symptoms of illness and set a good example by staying home and caring for yourself when you are ill. Minimizing the spread of illness protects others who may have a difficult time battling the cold or flu. Additionally, it may be helpful to plan ahead to determine how you will care for your child when they are too sick to attend school. By doing so, you will alleviate the stress of finding a caretaker at the last minute.

And remember — thorough handwashing is the most effective prevention from spreading germs. Stay healthy!

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