Your Health: When to keep your sick child home

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - During cold and flu season, many parents struggle with "when" to keep their child home from school.

School is where many children spread and pick up germs.  That's why there are strict guidelines as to when a seemingly sick child is sent home.  Often the child is sent to see a school nurse.  The nurse decides if the parents are called to pick up the child.

"When we get children in school with a fever, usually around a hundred or higher, give or take, you know, we send that child home. And that child has to stay at home until the fever is gone 24 hours without any fever reducing medication, such as Tylenol or Advil," said nurse supervisor, Sharon Landers.

She said often the child is lethargic, shows signs of dehydration or appears very tired.

"Because we don't want other children catching anything, being sick, teachers, other children at school to pass anything around that's contagious," she said.

And many pediatricians say often a fever is a sign of a contagious infection.

One recent change has to do with a child with an upset stomach. Vomiting no longer means a ticket out of class.

"We've had children, especially young children in elementary school, kindergarten – they, a lot of times, after they eat, they will vomit for no reason," said Landers.

She sad often they will see the same child, running, jumping and playing in the nurse's office.  But if the child is tired, lethargic or just doesn't look like they feel well - parents may be called.

There are also exceptions to the rules. Some children run a low grade fever when teeth come in.  A note from the doctor can help there.

The bottom line?  You know your child better than anyone else.  If they're lethargic or if they're running a fever, it might be better to keep them home.

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