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Moms Talk: Too Sick To Go To School?

How do you make the call on whether it is a sick day?

“’I cannot go to school today,’
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
'I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.’ ”

-- from “Sick” by Shel Silverstein

After reciting a litany of symptoms, we come to find out that little Peggy Ann is only faking her illness, naughty girl that she is, but it does raise an interesting question: "how sick is too sick to go to school?" asks Reston PatchMoms Council member Samantha Nims.

I seem to remember a 24-hour rule that requires students who are ill to stay home for at least 24 hours after the first course of antibiotics, the last elevated temperature, or the last episode of vomiting or diarrhea.  Assuming for the moment that people follow these guidelines, there is still a lot of gray area when it comes to other types of illness. 

How do you tell the difference between a sniffle and a head cold, or a throat tickle and the beginnings of strep?  With all of the allergens in our area, it’s difficult to distinguish a stuffed-up, goopy-eyed, hacking kid with allergies from one with a viral or bacterial infection.  Similarly, how do you know if your child has an upset stomach because he ate too much cake at the soccer team party or because he’s coming down with the flu?

So, what’s the rule in your home when things get germy?  Do you err on the side of caution and keep them home or send them off with extra Vitamin C and hope for the best?

Karen Goff March 23, 2011 at 07:13 PM
Fever. That is my beacon. IF you have a fever, you are home. No fever, then you can probably go to school.
Susan Sather March 23, 2011 at 07:25 PM
Unless you're running to the toilet many times a day -- or are obviously so sick you couldn't function in a classroom. The last couple of years have brought too many things my kids way for me to have any across the board rules. It doesn't take long into a sick day to tell if you made the right call or not. The kids who's too sick to be in school, shows it; and the one who might not feel well, but could be in a classroom, shows that pretty obviously too.
Susan Sather March 23, 2011 at 07:25 PM
Where do you define fever? Our school clinic considers it anything over 100 My youngest can almost will herself into a burst of temperature rising high enough to qualify as a fever for a clinic visit -- while at home she's a normal temp, and I'm stuck keeping her out of school the next day because she was in the clinic with a 100.3 temperature.
Jennifer Davis Heffner March 23, 2011 at 07:28 PM
Fever for me too. I don't care if you barfed the night before...unless you are truly very ill, off to school you go. But, I seem to have a lot of illness fakers in my family which might be why I am so harsh now. :)
Susan Sather March 23, 2011 at 07:31 PM
....and I've had way too much of really sick kids, so my vision is now skewed that way. It's just my "clinic temperature girl" who I've had to keep home when I knew she was healthy
Maria Koklanaris Bonaquist March 24, 2011 at 12:39 AM
I'll keep mine home for a very persistent cough as well, even if no fever. No one wants to be next to somebody who is coughing all the time.
Cindy March 24, 2011 at 12:00 PM
My kids do not get fevers everytime they are sick with something. I have had them diagnosed with Strep and ear infections with a temp under 100. I have alwasys had a hard time convincing the school nurse to believe our girls when they say they do not feel well but do not have a temp. Mom's instinct works for our house. If I make a mistake and send them would they should have stayed home, I go to school and bring them home.

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