Being sure that a child is well enough to go to school can be tough for any parent. It often comes down to whether the child can still participate at school. Having a sore throat, cough, or mild congestion doesn’t always mean kids can’t handle class and other activities.
With flu and respiratory illness season in full swing, health experts ask that kids stay home when they have symptoms like a fever over 100.4°F, diarrhea, vomiting or trouble breathing.
As for other types of infections, chickenpox sores should be dry and crusted over before kids go back to school (usually this takes about 6 days). Kids with strep throat need a dose or two of antibiotics first, which can mean staying home the day after diagnosis (or possibly longer). Other contagious infections — like rubella, whooping cough, mumps, measles, and hepatitis A — have specific guidelines for returning to school. Your pediatrician will help you discern these guidelines.
Lice, scabies, and ringworm shouldn’t keep kids out of school. If the problem is found by the teacher or school nurse, the child should stay in school until the end of the day. Kids who get their first treatment after school should be able to return to the classroom the next morning.
You know your kids best. A child who has the sniffles, but hasn’t slowed down at home is likely well enough for the classroom. However, one who coughed all night and had a hard time getting up in the morning might need to take it easy at home. When in doubt, call your pediatrician for advice.