Dismissing Students


  • Specializes in School Nursing. Has 3 years experience.

When you have a student who you feel could stay at school, but still called the parent to inform of his/her complaint and parent decided to pick up, but it is going to take them a while to arrive, do you usually send the student back to class to wait or have them wait in the H/O?

I have learned that parents often take longer to arrive than expected. So when a student is fine but will be picked up, I often send back to class to wait. We do not always have room for a student to rest and I don't think it makes sense for a stable student to sit in our boring office for a long time, compromising the privacy of other students who come in.

Usually teachers are appreciative that there is at least a plan for dismissal. Last week, I had a calm and afebrile student with a stomach ache who I sent back to class after my normal stomach ache drill. He was sent back down after 10 minutes. Still appeared well with no distress but I called mom to inform and she said she would pick up in 30 minutes. I sent him back with a note that mom would come in 30 to pick up and we would call him down (my mistake was probably writing the expected wait on the pass). Mom took longer than expected, and teacher called me to let me know the student was "not happy in the classroom" and as I was telling her that there was no room for him to rest here she said, "well I'm having him pack up his things and I'm sending him down." (Mom actually arrived like two minutes after he came down.)

I ended up sending her a brief email at the end of the day because I felt she may have thought I unloaded a sick student back into her classroom. Maybe it would have gone better had I called her to explain the plan rather than write it on the note. I am not super bothered about the situation but am curious whether anyone else would have been even slightly bothered. In the "I would not tell you how to run your classroom" kind of way. It's the end of the year and everyone is tired but I still felt the need to back myself up and clear any misunderstanding. Especially because we have been so darn busy here and I feel run over, myself.

Thanks for reading my wordy post! I did not want to make a separate thread for this but could not figure where else it should go. :notworthy:

(Actually, just as I finished writing this post, teacher sent back a very kind reply. So I'm glad I emailed her, because sometimes a negative interaction is the only interaction I'll have with a teacher for a month and I don't like that to hang in the air uncleared!)


3,393 Posts

Has 5 years experience.

If the kid is going home, I let them wait in the nurse's office. If it is going to be a while, I tell them to bring a book (no phone/tablet time) or homework.

Specializes in School nursing.

I'll send back to class for student to wait in a situation like that or pick-up is going to be awhile, usually over an hour. At the very least, if the student absolutely tells parent they can't return to class and pick-up is a while pending, they are going to get work from their classes and will be actively working at the desk I have set up in my office. And yep, no phone use while waiting. My office is still school :).


650 Posts

Specializes in School Nurse. Has 10 years experience.

If I have not found any medical reason that the student needs to go home, I send them back to class and tell the student that the front office will contact the classroom when the parent arrives. My attendance clerk is very good at explaining to parents that the nurse is not sending their student home, and it will be an unexcused absence. Since they are not being released from the health office, I do not let them wait in here.

ruby_jane, BSN, RN

3,142 Posts

Specializes in ICU/community health/school nursing. Has 14 years experience.

First off, good for you for communicating like you are. I tend to write things on the pass as I send the kid back, or sometimes (if it was really weird) I'll email. Probably not as often as would be useful, though.

If the kid has a migraine, nausea, a really profound hacking cough or any other condition that would limit his/her ability in class, I usually suck it up and let him/her rest here. Extreme coughing earns you a mask.

If there's no good reason for the pick up I usually ask the parent what s/he wants for the student and usually the parent directs the student back to class. I write on the pass "parent declined pick up at this time, directed student back to class" and then any other pertinent data (like lack of a fever).

allnurses Guide


1 Article; 4,787 Posts

Specializes in Pediatrics Retired.

If there is no sign of illness and the parent decides to pick them up I send them back to class. If the student really isn't feeling well they are going to feel the same regardless of what room in the building they are in so they might as well wait in the classroom and lessen the chances of taking some "bug" out of the school that they didn't bring in.

Flare, ASN, BSN

5 Articles; 4,431 Posts

Specializes in school nursing, ortho, trauma.

i have found over the years not to give an exact time. I will usually just send the kid back to class and tell them that their parent said they "will pick them up early" or "in a little while". Depending on the staff I may give a pre-emptive call to them to say that Johnny has a cold and mom is coming for them "at some point" but that they really don't need to go home based on my assessment. It usually stops the argument before it starts.

Specializes in Pediatrics, Hematology Oncology, School Nurse. Has 15 years experience.

Like others...if there isn't an obvious medical reason for them to stay in the clinic (e.g. fever, vomiting, migraine) and it's going to be more than an hour for someone to pick them up, I send them back to class to wait. I make it clear to the parent that the student will be going back to class if it will be that long before someone can get the student from school.

I'm a pretty 'tough-love' kind of person though. My feeling is that if the parents don't feel it's urgent enough to get here right away, then the student needs to try to stay in class.

Specializes in med-surg, IMC, school nursing, NICU. Has 11 years experience.

If they are going home "sick" even if I don't think they really are, they wait in my office. I have the room and it's not worth the headache of teachers being so paranoid about having "germs" in their classroom... even though the "sick" child had been in class all day.

I've had kids wait up to 3 hours for a ride home and it breaks my heart.

bsyrn, ASN, RN

810 Posts

Specializes in Peds, School Nurse, clinical instructor. Has 24 years experience.

I will usually keep them in my office, it is not worth the hassle of sending a "sick" student back to class.


1,821 Posts

Specializes in Cardiology, School Nursing, General. Has 5 years experience.

It depends. If the child is showing signs of fever, throwing up or headaches, I let them stay. But if it's something not that bad that they can stand being in class, I'll send them back if parent is taking too long. Or even sometimes they ask me if they can go back, because they feel fine and don't want to wait too long in my office.


218 Posts

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 3 years experience.

I should mention I don't even have students get their things from their classrooms (in the case that they are waiting with me) unless they are afebrile asymptomatic and eager to go.

Of course, I don't send students to wait in class who are coughing, sneezing, vomiting, dizzy, fatigued, febrile, crying, etc. Only those who you could see in the hallway and not even think they were coming to the health office. And only when I know the parent is coming from far away or still arranging who will pick up the student or on the fence as to whether they will even pick up. Just in case anyone thought I was just sending all my dismissals to their classrooms which of course would not fly!

Thank you all for your thoughts!!