Pink Eye Policy

by CrazySchoolNurse CrazySchoolNurse, LPN Member

Specializes in Med/Surg, Emergency Room, School Nurse. Has 9 years experience.

Do you have a Pink Eye Policy that is written on the books or is it an assumed policy?

I just "assumed" that it was common knowledge that Pink Eye is highly contagious. I had to explain this to the parent and told them that once the student was seen by a physician and cleared they could return to school if it was not pink eye and if it is once they had their antibiotic ointment for 24 hours then they may return to school unless the physician states otherwise. I recently had a parent question what our Pink Eye Policy is, low and behold we don't really have one. (My 2nd year as a school nurse in a school that hasn't had a nurse in over 10 years)

If you do have one would you like to share? Any suggestions?! Do you let them stay or do you have them go?

I have been sending them out as this is a small school approx. 260 students 8-12 grades and they are together all the time.


Specializes in School Nurse. Has 9 years experience. 648 Posts

Check with your department of health. Tx DOH states that it contagious and excludable, readmission with a doctor's note.

tining, BSN, RN

Specializes in School Nurse. Has 28 years experience. 1,071 Posts

I tell parents - 'it looks like pink eye' (we cannot diagnose), 'however if your doctor feels like it is simply allergy eye the student can return with a note from the doctor.' They don't usually return.

Pink eye has drainage, gooped up in the morning, and hurts. Allergy eyes are usually bilateral, itchy and don't hurt, with clear drainage.

JenTheSchoolRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in School nursing. 3,027 Posts

Posting my Conjunctivitis (and some other eye stuff) charts I use:



9/10 it isn't conjunctivitis - or to be be specific, isn't bacterial conjunctivitis.

Suspected bacterial conjunctivitis and I send them out, return after seeing doctor and starting treatment if needed (per doctor). Because it is no fun and you can see it a mile away.

Older kids don't actually spread conjunctivitis as much as the younger ones do. They are more likely to spread from one to the other on themselves.

BUT, I do have red eye and saline eye drops in my office. I will apply those and have student sit a few minutes. They do help with allergy related red-eye a lot so that can be telling.

Edited by JenTheSchoolRN

Flare, ASN, BSN

Specializes in school nursing, ortho, trauma. 5 Articles; 4,427 Posts

@JenTheSchoolRN ooh! i have your green chart hanging on my medicine locker, I haven't seen the blue one before. Printing and hanging as i type! Thanks!

If the eye is just red, no goopyness, i usually just rinse and wait to see how it looks in a bit. As far as policy, ours is vauge to "communicable illnesses", so it covers a spread.



Specializes in Home Health,Dialysis, MDS, School Nurse. Has 20+ years experience. 1,237 Posts

This is what is in our handbook (I re-wrote the medical section of our handbook my 2nd year here) -

5. Pink eye (conjunctivitis) : Parents/guardians of any student with the signs and symptoms of Conjunctivitis/Pink Eye (inside of eyes red, eyes itchy and/or painful, drainage/crusting) will be notified and the student excluded from school until either started on treatment, provide the school with a doctor’s note that no treatment is needed, or symptoms resolve. Students presenting with symptoms that the school nurse and/or school staff feel may be related to other causes (red eyes but no itching or drainage; eye drainage along with runny nose/congestion) will be monitored throughout the day for improvement/worsening and may be given symptomatic treatment such as warm compresses/ non medicated eye wash.

Our state DOH doesn't require exclusion, but states "considerations can be made for sports, extracurricular activities and certain behaviors which may increase the risk of spreading infection"

NurseHeatherBSNRN, ASN, BSN

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 8 years experience. 35 Posts

Louisiana DOH says exclude only for "purulent discharge"; may return once "exclusion criteria are resolved or on medication, if indicated, for at least 24 hours".

If there isn't drainage/crusting, they stay. But, I notify parents that student is c/o...



198 Posts

We don't have a policy persae, but I follow the guideline given by my state's department of public health which states "exclude if conjunctivitis is accompanied by symptoms of systemic illness or if he child is unable to keep hands away from eye." Most can't keep their hands away from their eyes especially because it is so itchy, so most get excluded.

CrazySchoolNurse, LPN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Emergency Room, School Nurse. Has 9 years experience. 80 Posts

Thank you all for sharing. Student returned today with a doctor note.... confirmed Pink eye may return today.

I will definitely look and see what VA DOH says in that regards to Conjunctivitis. Also see if I can get an updated chart I completely forgot that those do exist. for the time being JenTheSchoolRN I will be printing the charts you provided.

@ Eleven011 do you mind if I copy your verbiage that will be going into the handbook for the next school year.

Slowly the medical section of the handbook is getting bigger. When I started the Health services section only had about 4 sentences. That in a nut shell stated that Health coordinator will provide band-aids and medication when provided. And let me tell you I have every single size band-aid known to man in stock I don't think I am going to run out anytime soon!



Specializes in Home Health,Dialysis, MDS, School Nurse. Has 20+ years experience. 1,237 Posts

Sure, go ahead! Our handbook was pretty lacking too, so I gathered all the "assumed" policies I could think of and wrote them up. Had our local doc look them over and give his nod of approval and they were added to the handbook.

CrazySchoolNurse, LPN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Emergency Room, School Nurse. Has 9 years experience. 80 Posts

Thank you, Eleven011. I have been doing a little at a time. Since this is a private school they are very reluctant to change. So I am easing them a few at a time. Eventually they will have all their bases covered, but for now I just pick and choose my battles as they come up. That has been the only way I have been able to get anywhere. After something happens I say something in a way to them so it comes out to be their idea and then I get asked to rewrite or write the policy.

So far that has been working pretty well at least during the school year and then in the summer I just present a list of things that need to change with reasoning behind them and I either get told okay yes we will do that this year or wait till the following. Baby steps as I said they are really resistant to change.



Specializes in School health, Maternal-Newborn. Has 20 years experience. 126 Posts

It's important to note in areas with high vaccine refusal rates that conjunctivitis is part of the three C's of prodromal measles along with a cough and a runny nose.