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Is my child too ill to attend school?

Guidelines for keeping a child home from school

Paula Davis RN


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Is my child too ill to attend school?

Parents are often confronted with this decision when their child complains of not feeling well. The guidelines shown on this handout may be helpful. It will not cover every medical condition and does not take the place of seeking medical attention. Please consult your doctor for specific medical advice. COVID-19 guidelines for schools are constantly changing. Please bear with us. 

Fever – 100.0 degrees or higher - A fever is a sign of illness. A child with a temperature of 100.0 degrees or higher should not attend school. The child should be free of fever (without the aid of Tylenol or Motrin) for 24 hours before returning to school. 

Flu+ 2019- Current for 2023-24 *Kansas Department of Health & Environment (KDHE) rules say a child cannot return to school until 5 days after the onset of the first symptom or 24 hours fever free without the aid of fever reducing medications, whichever is longer.

Covid-19+ 2022- Current for 2023-2024 **Day 0 is the first day of symptoms or the day of testing if asymptomatic. The student must remain out of school for 5 days

They need to be fever free for 24 hours without the use of medication and symptoms have improved.  They should wear a mask around others for an additional 5 days (Day 6-Day 10). 


Sore Throat-If the sore throat is accompanied by a temperature of 100.0 degrees or higher the child should not come to school. Strep throat must be treated with antibiotics for 24 hours and be fever free without the use of fever reducing medications before returning to school. 

Colds/Congestion/Runny nose- Minor cold symptoms are common and usually don't interfere with school attendance. A persistent runny nose or constant nasal drainage may affect your child's performance at school, and he/she may be more comfortable at home.  Colds/congestion/ runny noses that are accompanied by a temperature of 100.0 degrees or higher the child should stay at home. 

Cough-A persistent, frequent cough that is accompanied by a temperature of 100.0 degrees or higher the child should not come to school. New or worsening cough (for those students who have a history of asthma), shortness of breath or difficulty breathing should all be kept at home and be evaluated by a physician to determine other testing.  The student may return to school when cough can be contained and student has been fever free for 24 hours without the use of medications. 

Headaches-Headaches that are normal for the child related to school anxiety, weather, known allergies and female reproductive symptoms do not need to stay home. New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever should be kept at home. 

Vomiting/Nausea/Diarrhea - A child who has vomited should wait 24 hours after last episode and be able to retain solid foods (2 meals) before returning to school. A child who is having frequent diarrhea stools should not attend school. If there is cramping/abdominal pain with diarrhea, the student may be more comfortable at home. Diarrhea is contagious until stools are formed. Stay home for 24 hours after last episode, stools have returned to normal. GI symptoms that persist or are worrisome should be evaluated by your child's physician. 

Rash - A rash may cover the entire body or only one area. A child that has a rash that is draining, has open areas or is causing the child to itch excessively should not attend school. A rash accompanied with other symptoms such as: a fever, sore throat, irritability, vomiting, etc. should not attend school. A child complaining of a rash may be sent home at the school’s discretion for evaluation of contagiousness unless a note has accompanied the child to school from a physician.

Lice- Lice discovered at home needs to be treated with an approved lice treatment. Complete removal of nits is not necessary as long as the student has been treated.

Eyes  A child who wakes up with their eyes "glued" together may have "pink eye" or conjunctivitis. Other symptoms are redness (or pink) of the eye, gritty feeling in the eyes, itching and discharge of the eye. We are unable to determine here at school whether it is viral or bacterial pinkeye or even if it is contagious or non-contagious. This must be done by a doctor. Please keep in mind that "pink eye" is highly contagious and we need to work together to prevent an entire classroom from exposure. Your child needs to stay home on medication for 24hours before returning to school.