From the School Nurse’s Corner:
As 2022 came to a close, school absences due to illness for both students and staff were increasing. For our school nurses beginning a new semester with the expected widespread illnesses can be exhausting.
Long before the COVID pandemic, school nurses relentlessly promoted infection prevention strategies including hand washing, staying home when sick and vaccination. Despite all the news we are hearing about COVID, RSV, and the flu we know viruses have always existed and most children are generally resilient at fighting them.
Our school nurses are asking students, staff, and parents to do their part to help minimize illness at school and reduce the hardships on families, healthcare, and the entire community.
It is our belief that school attendance is essential but we understand that it can be a difficult decision to know when to send your child to school. Every situation is individual and every child has different needs.
We encourage parents/guardians with specific questions about their child’s illness to call their healthcare provider. If your child doesn’t have a healthcare provider you may contact the school nurse at your child’s school.
The following are some general guidelines as to when parents/guardians should keep their child home from school.
Students should stay home for a fever of 100.4 degrees or greater. The student can return to school after being fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications. Therefore, if a student is sent home with a fever, they may not return the next day. Students should not be given fever reducing medication and sent to school because most likely, the fever will return while at school and they will need to be picked up at school.
Colds, coughs, runny noses and sore throats are common in children and do not require them to stay home from school if symptoms are mild. If cold symptoms include fever or a cough that is excessive enough to disrupt learning and the ability to focus in class they need to stay home.
Vomiting or diarrhea- keep your child home until your child is eating and drinking without vomiting for 24 hours. If your child has diarrhea, keep at home until stools are formed. Children who are vomiting and having diarrhea cannot learn very well and will likely get everyone else sick too.
Strep Throat- your child can return to school with a medical note 24 hours after starting antibiotics, if no fever.
Pinkeye- if your child has pink or red eyes, swelling of eyelids or eye discharge they need to stay home and be seen by a healthcare provider. They may return to school after 24 hours of antibiotics treatment or a note from a healthcare provider stating they are not contagious to others.
Flu- your child may return to school when they have been fever-free for 24 hours without using any fever-reducing medications and feels well enough to participate in class.
Rashes-not all rashes require your child to stay home but because some rashes are contagious to others we need a note from your child’s healthcare provider stating they are not contagious and may return to school.
Pain/Headache- If your child is complaining of severe pain or headache keep them home and call your healthcare provider.
Parents/guardians please keep your child at home if you think that your child has an illness that can be spread to others. Teach your child to wash their hands frequently, especially before eating, after using the bathroom and after blowing their nose. It is also important to wash hands after touching desks, doorknobs and handrails. Teach your child to cough into their elbow or to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue before a sneeze or cough.