To stay or to go

Is your child coughing up a storm? Complaining of a tummy ache or a sore throat? Use our guide to help you decide when it’s OK to go to school and when it’s time to stay home.

If you’re concerned about your child’s symptoms, talk to their pediatrician or contact OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at 503-346-0640.

Fever

Go to school: Most public schools have a cutoff of 100.3°. But if your child feels well and can drink fluids, it’s OK to go to school.
Stay home: If your child has a fever of 100.3° or higher and/or other symptoms, such as coughing or a stomach ache, keep them home.

Red eyes

Go to school: Red and watery eyes are common during a cold. If there is no discharge from their eyes, then your child can go to school.
Stay home: If your child’s eyes have a discharge, especially if they are stuck closed in the morning, it may be a sign of a bacterial eye infection or conjunctivitis (“pink eye”). Call your child’s doctor.

Diarrhea

Go to school: If your child has loose stools but is generally keeping liquids in and can make it through the day, school’s a go.
Stay home: If your child has watery stools very frequently and can’t keep any fluids in, they should stay home.

Vomiting

Go to school: If it’s been 24 hours and your child isn’t actively vomiting and can keep 4-8 oz. of liquid down after 15-20 minutes, they’re OK to go to school.
Stay home: If your child is vomiting and has a fever, abdominal pain, or trouble urinating, keep her home and call her doctor.

Sore throat

Go to school: Most kids with colds will have a sore throat, especially for the first 2-4 days. If there’s no or low fever, it’s likely a cold and off to school they go.
Stay home: If your child has a sore throat without a runny nose or a cough and a fever above 101, call their doctor.

Coughing

Go to school: As long as her cough isn’t associated with a high fever or difficulty breathing, send her to school.
Stay home: If your child has a fever above 101, problems breathing, and/or a history of asthma, keep her home and call her doctor.

Rash

Go to school: Children with colds often get small red spots on the chest, back, face, arms, and legs. If the spots don’t itch or feel sandpapery, school is fine.
Stay home: Have your child stay home if the rash is itchy, raised, or doesn’t change color (it should blanch with pressure from your fingers).

Colds

Go to school: If your child has no fever, is breathing without difficulty, and can keep fluids down, it’s OK.
Stay home: If your child has cold symptoms, a fever over 100.3°, and can’t keep liquids down or seems lethargic or cranky, it might be time for a sick day.

This article originally appeared in the Portland Monthly 2019 Kids’ Health Annual magazine.

Leave a Reply