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Is my child too sick for school?

Many parents are frequently concerned about when to keep children home or send them to school. The following information is intended to help parents with this decision.  District Health Services follows public health guidelines when deciding when to have students remain at home.

General Guidelines:

  • If child has had a fever of 100 degrees or more, the child should stay home for 24 hours after the temperature returns to normal.
  • If child has vomited or had diarrhea, the child should stay home until 24 hours after the last episode.
  • If child has any rash that may be disease-related or you do not know the cause, check with your family physician before sending the child to school.
  • If your child is ill, please call the school to report the absence.
  • If your child begins taking an antibiotic, he / she should stay home for a full 24 hours after the antibiotic is started.
  • A physician’s order and written parent/guardian permission is needed in order to be able to administer any medication while at school.

If you have any questions regarding your child's illness or the above information, please call your school nurse or your family physician.

The following are three of the most common childhood concerns that we see in school, with appropriate guidelines to follow:

Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Pink or red conjunctiva with pus that causes matting of the eyelids; pain or redness of eyelids.

Incubation: Usually 1 - 3 days
School Guidelines: Contagious until the active infection passes. Refer for medical diagnosis and treatment.
Exclude from school until 24 hours after treatment begins.

Head Lice

The scalp should be looked at closely. You may see small, live bugs (1/8" - 1/4") that move out of the light very quickly, and / or nits (egg cases)which are attached to the hair shaft and will be very hard to move or dislodge. The nit looks like a tiny white bead attached to a single strand of hair. There may be scratch marks on the scalp or back of the neck at the hairline.

Anyone can get head lice.  Head lice is a common problem for children in childcare settings and schools.  Most cases of head lice are acquired outside of school.  Sleepovers are a common setting in which head lice are spread. It is important to check your child's head after returning from a play date or sleepover. 

It is important to remember that head lice are a nuisance, not a serious disease or a sign of poor hygiene.   While it is unlikely to prevent all cases of head lice, children should be taught not to share personal items such as combs, brushes, and hats. Regular observation by parents can also be an effective way to detect and quickly treat head lice.   

Strep Throat

Sudden onset of fever, sore throat, swollen glands, headache, abdominal pain; nausea and vomiting in severe cases.

Incubation: Usually 1 - 3 days.
School Guidelines: Most contagious during the acute infection and until 24 hours after effective treatment begins.
Exclude until at least a full 24 hours after treatment begins and until child is without fever for 24 hours.