Ask the Pro: When is the Time to Keep Your Kids Out of School?

Stay at home, kid

by SHFamily | Thu, November 23, 2017

Dr Jane Lee, General Practitioner at Global HealthCare Medical & Dental, talks to us about when it's time to keep your kids out of school.

Is it a bad idea to send my kids to school when feverish?

Fever is a symptom and not a diagnosis. A child with a fever greater than 37.8°C, or 100.5°F, needs to stay home until the fever is gone for at least 24 hours. Fever is a body’s natural defense in fighting against an infection, making it a very positive thing. However, it can make children feel quite restless or make it diffcult to focus in school. Each child deals with a fever differently. If your child has a slight fever but feels lethargic and doesn’t want to eat or play, it is best you keep her or him comfortable at home where you can monitor them.

Mother and daughter

Should my child see a doctor before I keep them home from school?

Bringing sick children to a doctor is often inevitable, and can give you a clear answer when deciding whether to keep them out of school. But if this isn’t an option for you (busy schedule, work commitment, child-care issues or lack of accessible health care), ask yourself the following questions: is my child well enough to do activities at school? Is it likely to be something that can be passed on to other kids? Would I take a day off work if I had the same condition? If the answer is yes, keep your child at home. As a general rule, if your child is sick and their attendance is likely to worsen the condition, or impose a risk of infection to other children and teachers, the child should stay at home.

How long should they stay home for?

It depends on what’s caused the illness. Mild conditions such as the common cold, conjunctivitis, Hand Foot Mouth Disease, roseola, head lice, threadworms, and tonsillitis may require your children to stay off school. On the other hand, certain infectious diseases would require children to stay home to prevent the germs spreading. For instance, a child with scarlet fever can technically return to school after 24 hours of commencing antibiotics, chicken pox after five days of appearance of rash, whooping cough after five days from commencing antibiotics and influenza until recovered, to name a few common child-hood illnesses. Parents need to inform the school as soon as possible to discuss the nature of the illness and how long you expect the absence to last, as every school has a slightly different exclusion policy.

My child is frequently sick with a common cold. Do I need to take them to a doctor for a blood test?

Generally speaking, no. Sickness is a perfectly normal part of childhood and life in general – whether it be a fever, cough or some form of tummy bug. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average child suffers from various forms of illness six to 12 times per year. Unnecessary investigations often traumatize young children and can make future visits to the doctor’s very tricky. Instead, offering supportive help by making a soup, reading them calming stories or massaging them with a chest rub can make your child feel better and build fond, parental future memories.


How can I protect my child against infectious illnesses?

It’s impossible to prevent your children from getting sick. You can however help them reduce their risk by teaching them to properly and frequently wash their hands, blow their nose into a tissue and cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing. It is also handy to introduce pocket-sized hand sanitizers to older children. Remembering to bring the child to a doctor for a flu vaccine can also help reduce the risk of severe influenza. The flu vaccine should be given before the start of flu season at the end of October or early November, as it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in the body after vaccination.