When to Keep a Sick Child at Home
Update 3/6/20: During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Washington Department of Health has updated its recommendation on when to stay home from school and work. The change is highlighted below.
- If you have fever, cough or shortness of breath and have not been around anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID19, you should stay home away from others until 72 hours after the fever is gone and symptoms get better.
-Vomiting (even once)
- General malaise or feelings of fatigue, discomfort, weakness or muscle aches
- Frequent congested (wet) or croupy cough
- Lots of nasal congestion with frequent blowing of noseAccording to best practice guidelines*, please do not send your child to school if he/she has:
- A fever (an oral temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher). A fever is a common symptom when it occurs with a sore throat, an earache, nausea, listlessness or a rash. PLEASE keep your child home during the course of a fever - and for an additional 24 hours after the fever has passed without the use of fever-reducing medication
- Vomiting during the night or more than twice in the past 24 hours
- Diarrhea during the night or more than twice in the past 24 hours
- Strep Throat (must have been taking an antibiotic for at least 24 hours before returning to school)
- A cold, with a very runny nose or bad cough, especially if it has kept the child awake at night
- Bacterial Conjunctivitis, or Pink Eye (must have been taking an antibiotic for at least 24 hours before returning to school)
- Ear Infection (must have been taking an antibiotic for at least 24 hours before returning to school)
- A bothersome body rash, especially with fever and/or itching that spreads quickly and has open, weeping wounds
The following are reminders of some general hygiene principles for your child:
- Encourage your child to use a tissue to wipe a runny nose, discard it in the trash and immediately wash their hands with warm water and soap, or use a hand sanitizer
- Encourage your child to cover a cough or sneeze with the bend in the inner arm/elbow, and not into their hands.
- Encourage your child to wash their hands with warm water and soap each time after using the bathroom, before and after eating snacks/lunch, and frequently throughout the day.*References
1• American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education. 2011. Caring for our children: National health and safety performance standards; Guidelines for early care and education programs. 3rd Edition. Elk Grove Village, IL.
2• American Academy of Pediatrics, Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools, 3rd Edition, Elk Grove Village, IL 2013.
3•Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Infectious Disease Control Guide for School Staff, WA 2014.