Keeping your child home from school or daycare can be a tough call. You don’t want them to miss out on their education, but you also don’t want them to contaminate other children – and will you have to take leave from work to stay home with them?
These symptoms will help you decide if your child is good to go to school or does, in fact, need a sick day.
Should your child stay home from school if they are vomiting?
Good to go: Your child has vomited once in the space of 24 hours. Sometimes kids throw up because mucous left over from a cold has drained, in which case a sick day is unnecessary.
Stay at home: If your child displays signs of dehydration such as dark yellow urine, no bubbles between lips and gums or no tears when crying, they may need to stay at home. If they have thrown up more than twice in the space of 24 hours, a sick day is warranted.
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Should your child stay home from school if they have a sore throat?
Good to go: A sore throat accompanied by a runny nose is often an indicator of a simple irritation from the draining mucous; send them off provided they’re fever-free.
Stay at home: A strep test by a doctor is necessary if a headache, stomachache, swollen glands and/or fever accompany the sore throat. Children with strep should be on antibiotics for at least a full day before returning to school.
Should your child stay home from school if they have a cold or the flu?
Good to go: If your child hasn’t been hacking up a storm and does not display fever symptoms, they are usually able to attend school. Remember: if all children with snotty noses stayed at home, schools would be empty!
Stay at home: A cranky, lethargic child with a persistent phlegmy cough should stay at home. If symptoms such as wheezing and fever are present, a day in bed is needed.
Disclaimer: If you suspect your child may have Covid-19, keep them home from school and seek urgent medical help.
Should your child stay home from school if they have diarrhoea?
Good to go: Your child’s stools are only slightly loose and they’re acting normally. Some children develop “toddler’s diarrhoea”, triggered by high consumption of fruit juice. As long as the diarrhoea isn’t excessive, the child has the all clear.
Stay at home: Kids who have the runs more than three times a day likely have an infection that can spread. If you see blood or mucus in the stool, call the doctor. Similar to vomiting, watch for signs of dehydration.
Should your child stay home from school if they have a stomachache?
Good to go: If your child still appears active and tummy pain is the sole symptom, it is likely due to mild constipation and your child is able to continue their day.
Stay at home: Sharp stomach pain and a rigid belly can be signs of severe constipation, appendicitis or a bowel obstruction. Check if your child has no interest in play and if the pain is coupled with vomiting, diarrhoea or fever. A trip to the doctor may be needed.
Not all sickness warrants time off, but sometimes a sick day along with plenty of rest (not play and television) can help your child with a speedy recovery.
The contents of this article are not professional medical advice. When in doubt about any of the above-mentioned symptoms, consult your family doctor.