Too Sick For School

Too Sick For School

When is a child too sick for school? 

Parent don’t want a child to miss school but neither do they want to send a sick child to school and endanger him or her or other children as well. The following information is meant to help you make decisions for the health of your child and to protect other students as well as school staff. 

Runny noses 

A runny nose is the way many people respond to the change in season, pollen, and dust. Allergies aren’t contagious. The child may attend school. Review nose blowing, hand washing, and the proper use of tissues with your child.


Run-of-the-mill cold symptoms do not necessitate absence from school but bad or constant coughing indicates the child be examined by a health care provider to rule our bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, or possibly the flu. The child should not attend school. 

Poison ivy 

Unless severe and uncomfortable, poison ivy does not necessitate absence from school, but exposed weeping blisters should be drying out before he/she attends school. 



Keep a child home with a temperature of 100 degrees or higher. A child who has received fever reducing medication for a fever should remain at home for at least 24 hours. 

Difficulty breathing 

Shortness of breath, not acting “right” or becoming dehydrated is serious. The child should see a health care provider and should not attend school. 

Vomiting / diarrhea 

If your child has vomited or has had watery stools, he/she should remain at home. Repeated episodes can lead to dehydration and require a visit to the health care provider. 

Contagious illness 

Strep throat and scarlet fever are caused by a streptococcal (bacterial) infection. The sore throat is often accompanied by fever, headache, and stomach ache in young children. Twelve to forty-eight hours after the onset of scarlet fever a rash appears. After 24 hours of treatment with antibiotics a child is generally no longer contagious. With doctor’s permission the child may return to school if feeling well enough to participate in school activities. Bronchitis, pneumonia and other illnesses can require treatment with antibiotics and other medications. Children should remain home until after at least 24 hours of antibiotics and until acute discomfort has passed. 

Ear infection 

The cause of the ear infection can be contagious and unless treated properly, can lead to permanent hearing damage. Again follow the 24-hour rule for fever and antibiotic therapy. 


Commonly called pink eye conjunctivitis is uncomfortable and can be contagious. Allergic and viral are generally the causes of minor cases. Bacterial conjunctivitis is contagious and must be treated with prescription antibiotics. Best to keep your child home until at least 24 hours after treatment begins and any itching and drainage has subsided. 

As long as your child feels well, he/she can return to school: 

after 24 hours fever free without fever controlling medication after 24 hours of antibiotic treatment for strep throat, ear infections and when your child is fever free 24 hours after vomiting/diarrhea has subsided 

Major illness, injury or surgical procedure 

Please notify the school nurse so we can assist you with appropriate care for your child on return to school. A note from the health care provider outlining care and restrictions will be required. 

As always we ask you to please be sure current contact information is on file at 

school to ensure we have a way to reach you during the school day.