How sick is too sick to make my kid go to school?


Many parents deal with this question frequently throughout the school year and although it can be a question to contemplate, there are ailment signs to look for that will help in deciding if you should send your child to school or not.

Last night your toddler was running a slight temperature and actually asked to go to bed — not her usual MO. By morning she’s fever-free, scarfing down her scrambled eggs and chasing the dog around the backyard. You’re conflicted: Should you keep her home from daycare — upending your finely tuned schedule — or send her off as usual?


Sometimes a child’s symptoms (say, Technicolor vomit or a cough like a barking seal) make the decision a no-brainer. Other times, not so much. To alleviate that early-A.M. angst, we consulted several top pediatricians to help you figure out when your child (and you!) should get the green light to carry on as usual.

Many parents have a hard time deciding if their kids are well enough to go to school. After all, what well-intentioned parent hasn’t sent a child off with tissues in hand, only to get that mid-morning “come get your child” phone call?

boy and teddybear in bed

But making the right decision isn’t as tough as you might think. It basically boils down to one question: Can your child still participate in school activities? After all, having a sore throat, cough, or mild congestion does not necessarily mean a child can’t be active and participate in school activities.

So trust your instincts. If your son has the sniffles but hasn’t slowed down at home, chances are he’s well enough for the classroom. On the other hand, if he’s been coughing all night and needs to be woken up in the morning (if he typically wakes up on his own), he may need to take it easy at home.

sick to school

Of course, never send a child to school who has a fever, is nauseated, vomiting, or has diarrhea. Kids who lose their appetite, are clingy or lethargic, complain of pain, or who just don’t seem to be acting “themselves” should also take a sick day.

If you decide that your child is well enough to go to school, check first with your child’s teacher. Most daycares, preschools, and grade schools have rules about when to keep kids home. For example, pinkeye or strep throat usually necessitates a day home with appropriate treatment. Most centers won’t let kids return to school until after a fever has broken naturally (without fever-reducing medicines) for at least 24 hours.


And remember, go with your gut. You know your kids best, and you know when they’re able to motor through the day — and when they’re not.

Some illness signs are obvious and others are more instinctual, no one knows their child better than the parent-if you feel like your child is sick it is best to trust your instincts and chances are, you are correct.


Here you will find 5 ailment signs that may make your child too sick to attend school for the day or a number of days.

  1. Fever
  2. Vomiting
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Itchy eyes
  5. Rash

At one point or another, every parent of a grade-schooler has to face the tough choice of whether or not to send a sick child to school.