HELP Pink Eye Question

  1. Hi I have a question regarding students with Pink Eye. People at my school are questioning policy but we don't have a policy specifically for this. I have a student that I suspect has Pink Eye. At our district, if we suspect pink eye she must send them home to be seen by a doctor and the child cannot return until the doc releases them or they are under tx. This particular student cannot be picked bc the parents are both at work and cannot find anyone else to pick them up. Someone told me (another nurse) to just let the student go back to class.... but I've seen other nurses keep the child in their clinic with class work because since they suspect pink eye which is very contagious, they will not allow the student to go back into the classroom and possibly infect other students. I want to know how yall handle this in your clinics. In my eyes, I am thinking about the possible infection of other kids in the class. But other nurses are telling me to just send them back, like whatever. any advice???
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    About uthscsa2011, BSN, RN

    Joined: Oct '12; Posts: 99; Likes: 47
    Specialty: 5 year(s) of experience


  3. by   loriangel14
    i don't work ina school but I think you are right. Pink eye is highly contagious. why on earth would they take the chance and send the child back to class?
  4. by   JenTheSchoolRN
    How old is your student? My general rule of thumb is if its contagious enough to send kid home, they stick with me and get schoolwork until they can be picked up.

    Then I clean my office after they leave .
  5. by   uthscsa2011
    the child is 7 years old. I feel like i should ask the teacher "how would you feel if the school nurse at your child's school sent a child with possible pink eye back into their classroom and your child ended up getting pink eye?? how upset would you be then".....
  6. by   nightie-night nurse
    If a student meets the criteria for exclusion and cannot be picked up, I will keep them in the clinic in order to protect the other students from exposure. Keep in mind this is after I have exhausted all avenues of having them picked up (grandma, aunt, sister, babysitter, etc.)

    I am currently at a middle school and I have had parents say to let them walk home. I then have the parent speak to an administrator and get their approval. This never happened at the elementary level, so I was surprised when it happened here.
  7. by   JenTheSchoolRN
    nightie-night nurse, I have plenty of parents let their middle school kids walk home; there is no busing after 6th grade and so many parents don't have many other options of others that can pick their child up. If child is not incredibly ill and the parents writes me an email so I have permission in writing, the student can sign out and leave.

    I did this yesterday with an 8th grader with suspected pink eye, actually .
  8. by   NurseEllie13
    "My general rule of thumb is if its contagious enough to send kid home, they stick with me and get schoolwork until they can be picked up."

    THIS. Frankly, I'd be very surprised if the teacher doesn't throw a huge fit when you send suspected pink eye back to his/her class (because *I* would!)
  9. by   Whispera
    If the student needs to be sent home because he's turbo-contagious, why in the world would it be ok to send him back to class? The logic those other nurses see in this totally escapes me!
  10. by   Artistyc1
    Pinkeye has several forms, and it has to spread by hand contact. Sending the child back to class, if they wash their hands is not an issue.
    Also, many schools do not exclude for conjunctivitis. It is usually viral, and self limiting. It is most often caused by the same virus that causes the common cold. Since we don't exclude for common colds, my district does not exclude for this, either. If the child can be trusted to use good hand technique, isn't too itchy/uncomfortable, we don't send them home.
  11. by   Artistyc1
    If they will wash their hands, it is not airborne illness. They are NOT "turbocontagious". Not everyone even requires treatment.
  12. by   rbytsdy
    I keep them in my office until they can be picked up. But on 1 occasion the eye was red but no exudate. The parent couldn't come and it was Read Across America Day so we had guests reading to the kids. So I patched the child's eye, washed his hands really well and walked him back to the class with a small bottle of Purell and a wrapped ice pack for his eye. He was just going to be listening to stories for he next couple hours.

    I've sent quite a few kids home who came back with notes stating the pink eye wasn't severe enough to treat (or it was allergies in one case - but only 1 eye was red and it was February). I took my own kid in for pink eye once and the doctor said just to put a warm compress on it. The redness cleared up within a day.
  13. by   fetch
    Resurrecting this (AAAH ZOMBIE THREAD OH NOES) due to a case at my school right now. Digging through my policy book I found this awesome chart and guideline sheet that can be kept in your office for reference AND sent home with parents:

    It also has references at the bottom for more information.

    And a follow-up question: if you have a 2nd grader with pink eye, and she has a sibling in 3rd grade who is asymptomatic, would you exclude both or just the 2nd grader? My thinking is that by 3rd grade, he should be responsible enough to wash his hands and to understand about going to the clinic if his eyes start burning/itching.
  14. by   JenTheSchoolRN
    I was just thinking about this topic! Given it is allergy season, I have many kids with itchy, red eyes. And every time a teacher hears a student say "my eye itches" or sees a slightly irritated eye, they cry "pink eye" and sent them my way in terror. They are very surprised and even scared when I sent back 95% of them stating it is related to the student's seasonal allergies.

    That being said, I do more often than not send a child home with pink eye because when they usually come to me, the eye in question is so bothersome they are no longer paying attention in class and bothersome enough to usually warrant some treatment. I work grades 7-12, so I am not very worried about spread after a discussion about hand hygiene, etc. I have had parents call me and warn me their child has bacterial conjunctivitis, but they are treating it, and they are so relieved to hear me say "well then send 'em back to school to learn" .