When parents should keep their child home.


  • Specializes in Peds, MH, Corrections, School, Tele. Has 17 years experience.

Hi everybody,

It seems as if the parents at my school don't understand when they should keep their kids home from school. So I have decided to make a flyer for the parents to remind them. I will include the most obvious stuff like when they have a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea in the last 24 hours, But what about other illnesses. I was thinking I would include red eyes with yellow drainage, rash with a fever, and sore throat with swollen glands.

It is soon to be the cold and flu season and I really don't want a school full of sick kids and staff I want to be as proactive as possible. Any additional info would be greatly appreciated.

Jolie, BSN

6,375 Posts

Specializes in Maternal - Child Health. Has 37 years experience.

I hate to sound cynical, and preparing a list of guidelines is helpful, but all too often parents will send kids who they know do not belong at school, in order to avoid having to deal with a child at home.

In a nutshell, kids need to stay home if they have a known or potentially transmissable condition, or if they have a condition which will impair their ability to participate in class and learn (such as a nuisance cough, excesive tiredness, untreated pain, etc.)

mc3, ASN, RN

931 Posts

Has 12 years experience.

I was going to say the same thing as Jolie. Most parents know full well to keep their child home if they vomited, had diarrhea, or had some condition that morning that warrants medication, but chose to send them to school because of work issues. Most of the parents of the kids work in low-wage jobs and can't afford to me out. McDonalds, Walmart and the local SNF doesn't look fondly at call ins for a sick child, despite what they say publicly. On the other hand, it does annoy me when parent loads the kids up with Tylenol or cough syrup, then gets annoyed w/me because 4 hrs later I'm calling them to pick up their sick child. In this day and age, it's truly a dilemma and I don't know what the answer is.

I do think, though, that your local School Board (working in conjunction with the local Board of Health) should really defining this, not you. There could be some legal issues involved.....

Good luck!


NutmeggeRN, BSN

8 Articles; 4,596 Posts

Specializes in kids. Has 40 years experience.

Or when they send their diabetic to school with a sugar over 400......"was high all weekend"...sigh....Just an excercise in futility as the child was home by 9:00.....

Wave Watcher

751 Posts

Specializes in Community Health/School Nursing. Has 7 years experience.

I agree with others. The parents are normally aware of their child not feeling well when they leave for school. I always ask the child, "How long have you had xyz?". Normally they tell me before they left for school. I always ask them did they tell their parents and if so what did they say? And again, normally, yes they told parents and the parents said, "If you still don't feel well when you get to school go see the nurse." I hate to break it to them but the only part of my "walk in clinic" that you are mistaken about is that YOU are going to "walk into my clinic" and pick your sick child up.

Sun0408, ASN, RN

1,761 Posts

Specializes in Trauma Surgical ICU. Has 4 years experience.

As a parent and a nurse, I see both sides. Many children should not be at school but with the limited number of days each student is allowed to miss; it doesn't help. I know when my children should not be at school, but if they go and the nurse sends them home, it does not count against them. If I keep them home, it counts against them unless I take them to the doctor.. While I can afford to take them to the ped, doesn't mean other parents can or that the child needs to go to the doctor.. Catch 22 ..

Our school district allows 10 unexcused absents in a school year.


494 Posts

No matter, I think you should send the flyer home. As a parent, I would appreciate the information..

dudette10, MSN, RN

1 Article; 3,530 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Academics. Has 12 years experience.

Your flyer could also include basic home hygiene. Hand washing, the proper way to protect the nose/mouth when coughing/sneezing, changing out toothbrushes after an illness, etc.

I see 2 extremes in my school. We have the parents who send in kids we later find out were throwing up that morning and then we have the parents who keep their kids home everytime they have a sniffle. I do send something home reminding parents of the guidelines letting them know when to keep their kids home hoping to refresh a few memories.

Specializes in OB/GYN, Peds, School Nurse, DD.

Good luck with that. In my school that flyer would be universally ignored. Parents know what the rules are, they just feel free to interpret them any way they please. The rules are always for someone else.

Just today I had a boy come to me with strong symptoms of strep throat. Said he had missed school yesterday with teh same symptoms of strep throat. Called his mom--she confirmed it all. Seriously? Why would you send your child to school who is obviously miserable, whe you think he may have strep throat? Answer: He has Boy Scouts that meets there after school. She didn't want him to miss it. :banghead: and before I could stop myself I said, "So you thought it was a good idea to expose 90 other boys rather than take your son to the doctor?" I shamed her into taking that kid to the doctor--she picked him up within the hour.


69 Posts

Yeah I sent a student home this morning with a 101.2 temp. Called the mom and she said well yesterday afternoon he had diarrhea and was vomiting. And you sent him to school today because? I just dont get it because if your child is sick I am going to send him home. He hadn't even been to school for half an hour and she was coming to get him.


266 Posts

I wish my childs school would adopt a policy that allowed for a sick child to actually be able to stay home when needed. My oldest child was in kindergarten last year and the school has a policy that allows for 8 absences and then every other absence has to be cleared by a doctor. Well she got sick alot, she had never been in day care or any setting with lots of children, so not very surprising that she got sick so much. Well she got to 8 absences towards the end of the year and then she got the stomach flu, nausea, vomitting, the whole 9 yards. Well I called in the morning to clear her for the day and they told me that without a doctors note her file would be forwarded to CPS...What?? They said I could bring her to school at 8 am and pick her up at 830 and she would be counted for the day.

I had to stand my ground as the parent and tell them to go ahead and send her file to CPS, that I would be waiting at home for a visit from them. I told them that this policy will back parents up into a corner and force them to send sick kids to school to infect everyone else. But luckly I dont scare easily and low and behold....no CPS visit. I should add that 7 of her 8 absences were cleared with a doctors note, and 1 was due to a funeral which I cleared her for almost a week in advance.

Does your school have a policy like this? Maybe parents are legitimately fearful of having too many absences and being in hot water.