Is your child sick but you’re unsure if they should stay home from school? Are they out of sick days? Let’s take a look at some common symptoms and whether they are reason enough to keep a child home from school.
When should you keep your child home from school?
If you have kids in school you know the under-pressure feeling when you have to make a call on a potential sick day. We homeschooled our son last year and decided this year to send him to school. Unfortunately, no matter how healthy your child is, they will bring home a variety of new “icks.” It’s inevitable, not only because of the sheer number of new bodies they will encounter, but also because of sick policies at school and at the offices of the parents.
Sometimes sick children get sent to school because either they or their parents are out of sick days. This, of course, means you may find yourself anguishing in the early morning over whether or not you should send your newly infected child back into the fray.
When we homeschooled, if my son became ill I kept him indoors and away from other people until he was healthy. Now, I am encouraged to send him to school as soon as possible. It seems there are only so many days that my judgement as a parent is acceptable – after that, I am required to take my child to a doctor so that their authority can be substituted for my own. I certainly understand the need for rules like this. There are parents who are negligent in their child’s schooling and health and some regulation can help to catch anyone who might otherwise fall through the cracks. The average parent who is guarding both their child’s health and that of others will often run down and get homework to keep their child caught up. Why must that parent’s authority over their child be questioned and result in a doctor bill and exposure to a germ-ridden office?
As I struggled this morning with whether or not to send my son, I knew his sick days were dwindling. I decided to keep him home in the end. I wasn’t worried about whether or not he was contagious, it was a concern for his individual health. I thought I’d put together this reference guide about when to keep your child home from school for those anguished moments of decision.
Any time your child has a fever they should stay home. The body is actively fighting something. This means that they are usually contagious and it is inconsiderate to share. This also means that the body is focusing all its energy to raise the temperature. Any unnecessary energy expenditure like going in and out of buildings, regulating temperature, running, talking to friends, etc., pulls focus away from developing that fever. This makes the fever less effective and can make the illness last longer and go deeper into the body.
Hard, Racking, Unproductive Cough
A typical cold can be negotiated at school. You can send warm food in their lunch, dose them up with Vitamin C and your choice of cold medicine. When a child has a barking cough where you cannot hear any movement of phlegm, this should give you pause. An unproductive cough means the body is not successfully moving the irritant (mucus) out. If the mucus is allowed to sit and fester, breathing gets more shallow, less oxygen is circulated, and the lungs can become infected. This is where we move into pneumonia.
A child with this sort of cough should be kept at home with mustard packs on the chest and back, drinking decongestant tea and staying warm and quiet. I also recommend putting them in a room with a steamy shower to help break up the cough. When you no longer hear that hard, painful cough, they’re ready to go back to school.
Again, this one is painfully obvious. If your child is vomiting, you should keep them home.
This isn’t a serious problem as long as your child is kept hydrated (and can clean up independently after using the bathroom). While this kind of digestive problem runs its course it is, to say the least, a disruption to your teacher’s classroom and a difficulty for your child.
Oozing, Red Eyes
You should be wary about sending children to school if their eyes are oozing any kind of pus and they are overly red, inflamed, or itchy. This could be the dreaded pink eye and you don’t want to be the parent who starts that particular plague.
Remember that your school is responsible for the concern of the student body so they are thinking only about what is contagious. You are responsible for the body of your student and you must be aware of what can hurt them in the long run. Sometimes a non-contagious situation can degenerate into a serious condition for your child. It is better to anger the holders of the sick policy and protect your child. Often one day at home can head off weeks of lost school time.
What do you think? Should there be room for individual discussion regarding a school’s sick policy?