When to keep your child at home + healthy habits to stay well

Cold and flu season is upon us and parents frequently ask for guidelines for when to keep their child home with illnesses.

Colds (Upper Respiratory Illness): If your child has a constant runny nose, or lots of coughing/sneezing, keep your child home until these symptoms lessen, usually 24-48 hours. Children with mild cold symptoms may attend school.

Flu (Influenza):If your child has the flu, keep your child home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (100 degrees F), without the use of fever reducing medications. Key facts and helpful tips on how to protect against the flu can be found at the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

Fever: If your child has a temperature at or above 100 degrees F, keep your child home until 24 hours after the temperature returns to normal without the use of fever-reducing medications.

Sore throat/Strep Throat: If your child has a mild sore throat, no fever, and is otherwise feeling well, it is ok to attend school. If your child has a significant sore throat, and /or white spots in the back of the throat, contact your physician. If your child has been diagnosed with strep throat, keep your child home for 24 hours after starting antibiotic therapy.

Vomiting and/or diarrhea: If your child is vomiting or has diarrhea, keep your child home until 24 hours after they are symptom free.

Chicken Pox: Vaccinated children still have a small chance of getting the chicken pox. Notify your physician if your child has chicken pox and let the school nurse know as well. For a suspected case of chicken pox, keep your child at home until all scabs have crusted over and are dry, or there has been a medical diagnosis (by physician) of another cause of the rash.

Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis): If one or both eyes appear very red, irritated, and is draining, contact your physician as it may be a viral or bacterial infection. If antibiotics are prescribed, keep your child at home until 24 hours after the first dose of antibiotic.

Rash: If your child has an unknown rash, keep your child at home. Call your physician and inform the school nurse.

Ringworm (skin infection): If your child has Ringworm, keep your child at home and contact your physician. Your child may return to school after 24 hours of using the recommended medication, with the affected area covered.

Healthy habits to stay well and prevent spreading germs

  • Wash your hand often with with soap and water, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Alcohol‐based hand cleaners are also good to use, but they do not replace washing your hands with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to help prevent the spread of viruses.
  • Don’t share food, utensils, beverages with someone that has a cold/flu/illness.
  • Stay at home when sick, especially with flu‐like symptoms of fever and cough. Stay home for at least 24 hours after being fever free without the use of fever reducing medications.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or elbow instead of your hands.
  • Get a flu shot every year to help prevent seasonal flu.

These recommendations are for the above illnesses only. If you have any questions about this, or other illnesses, and whether to keep your child home or not, please contact the school nurse:

Sarah Chorney RN, BSN
617- 738- 2739

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