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Should I Send My Child To School With Sickness: A Parent’s Guide

Deciding whether to send your child to school with a cold can be tough. One fact stands: children often catch and spread illnesses at school. This guide offers tips on when it’s safe for them to return, protecting their health while there.

Keep reading for useful advice.

When to Keep Your Child at Home

A child with a fever lying in bed surrounded by medicine.

If your child has a high temperature, coughs and colds, chickenpox, conjunctivitis, COVID-19 symptoms or other contagious conditions, it’s best to keep them at home to prevent the spread of illness at school.

Ensure they stay home with conditions like ear infection, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, head lice and nits, impetigo, measles or vomiting and diarrhea.

High Temperature

A high temperature means your child feels very hot to touch on their chest or back. It can be a sign of illness. Your child may have a fever if their temperature is 38°C or higher.

Check their temperature with a thermometer to be sure. A hot forehead, chills, and sweating are common signs too.

If your young one has a high fever, it’s best to keep them at home from school. This helps stop spreading germs to others. Give them plenty of fluids like water to keep hydrated and let them rest well.

If the fever stays for more than five days, see your GP for advice. They might need medicine such as paracetamol that you can get without a prescription from the pharmacist. Keeping children up-to-date with vaccinations also helps protect against illnesses that cause fevers.

Coughs and Colds

Coughs and colds are common reasons kids miss school. If your child has a stuffy or runny nose, it might be okay for them to go to class. Cold symptoms can include sneezing, sore throat, and a mild cough.

But if they feel very tired or have a high fever, it’s better to keep them home. This gives them time to rest and get better quickly.

Make sure your kid knows how to wash their hands well. This helps stop germs from spreading at school. Teach them to use tissues when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in the bin right away.

Staying healthy also means getting the flu vaccine every year to protect against the flu virus. If your child keeps getting ill, talk with a doctor about other steps you can take.


Moving from coughs and colds, chickenpox is another illness that keeps children at home. It’s a common disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Kids with chickenpox get itchy spots all over their bodies.

These spots turn into blisters filled with fluid before crusting over. Chickenpox spreads easily through the air or by touching these blisters.

Children should stay off school if they have chickenpox. They can return once all the spots have crusted over, usually about 5 days after they first appeared. Keep your child comfortable and prevent scratching to avoid scars.

Calamine lotion and oatmeal baths help ease itching. If worried, talk to a pharmacist for advice on fever or discomfort management without needing a prescription visit.


Conjunctivitis makes your child’s eyes red, swollen, and itchy. This eye issue spreads easily among kids. If your child has these symptoms, keep them home until they feel better or a doctor says it’s safe to go back.

Clean their hands often to stop the spread of this infection.

For treatment, you might need over-the-counter medication or prescriptions from a pharmacy. Always check with a health professional first. Keeping sick children away from school helps everyone stay healthy and stops illnesses like conjunctivitis from spreading around classrooms and playgrounds.


Moving from eye infections, we come to COVID-19. This illness has changed how we think about sending kids to school with a sniffle or cough. If your child shows symptoms of COVID-19, like a high fever or new, continuous cough, they need to stay home.

Use a COVID-19 test to check if they’re infected. It’s vital for everyone’s safety.

Kids who tested positive must not go to school until they’re well again and have followed the isolation advice. Keeping hands clean is key in stopping the spread of this virus at school.

Teach your child to wash their hands often and properly, especially before eating and after blowing their nose. Vaccines also play a huge part in protecting against COVID-19. Make sure your child gets vaccinated if eligible according to the vaccination schedule.

Ear Infection

Ear infections can make your child feel quite unwell. If your little one complains about earache or you notice them tugging at their ear, it could be a sign of this common condition.

Ear infections often come with other symptoms like a high temperature and slight hearing loss. These signs mean your child needs rest and possibly a visit to the doctor.

Doctors sometimes give medicine to help with the pain or fight the infection. It’s best to keep your child off school if they have an ear infection. They need time to get better without spreading germs to others.

After they start feeling better, check if they’re ready to go back to school but avoid any water activities until fully healed.

Next up is hand, foot and mouth disease.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease spreads quickly in places like schools. If your child has it, they may have a fever, sore throat, and spots on their hands and feet. It’s caused by a virus and gets better on its own after about 7 to 10 days.

Keep your child at home during this time to stop the disease from spreading. They should rest, drink plenty of fluids, and you can give them over-the-counter medication for fever or discomfort if needed.

It’s also a good idea to teach your child to always wash their hands well. This helps prevent catching viruses like Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. Next up is how head lice and nits affect whether your child should go to school or stay at home.

Head Lice and Nits

Transitioning from preventing infections like Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, it’s essential to address the issue of head lice and nits in schools. These tiny insects lay eggs on hair strands, leading to itching and discomfort.

Regularly checking your child’s hair for lice and nits is crucial, as well as using medicated shampoos or lotions specifically designed to treat these pests. Encouraging good hygiene practices such as not sharing combs or hats can also help prevent the spread of head lice among children.

Itching, small insects in hair, uncomfortable scalp sensations are all signs of head lice infestation which requires prompt treatment with specialised shampoos or lotions. Ensure regular checks for lice and nits especially if there’s been an outbreak at school.

Educating kids about not sharing personal items like combs helps to prevent the spread among classmates.


Transitioning from head lice and nits, let’s talk about impetigo. Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection that commonly affects children. It causes red sores, usually around the nose and mouth, which can quickly spread to other parts of the body by touching or scratching.

Good hygiene habits and keeping any sores covered are essential to prevent spreading this infection at school. If your child has impetigo, it’s important to keep them home until their sores have healed or for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotics as prescribed by a healthcare professional.


Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that spreads through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms include a high fever, runny nose, red eyes, and a distinctive rash. Vaccination with the MMR vaccine provides protection against measles, mumps, and rubella.

It’s essential to ensure your child is up to date with their vaccinations to safeguard them from this potentially serious disease.

Moving on from Measles, “Protecting Your Child’s Health at School” discusses how vaccinations play an important role in preventing various illnesses.


Ringworm is a common fungal infection that causes a ring-like red rash on the skin. It’s highly contagious and can spread through direct contact with an infected person or pet, as well as contaminated surfaces like towels or combs.

To prevent spreading ringworm, ensure good hygiene practices such as regular handwashing and avoiding sharing personal items. Additionally, using antifungal creams and keeping the affected areas clean and dry can help clear the infection faster.

Protecting your child from ringworm at school involves educating them about personal hygiene, especially not sharing personal items with others. Encourage them to inform their teacher if they notice any signs of ringworm so that appropriate measures can be taken promptly.

Moving forward on protecting your child’s health at school…

Scarlet Fever

Moving on from the discussion of Ringworm, it’s important to address Scarlet Fever. This bacterial infection is caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria and can be recognised by its symptoms like a red rash, sore throat, high temperature, and flushed cheeks.

If left untreated, Scarlet Fever can lead to more serious complications. Seeking medical advice promptly is crucial for effective treatment and preventing the spread of the illness among family members and classmates.

While rare in present times due to antibiotic treatments, being aware of its signs and seeking prompt medical attention are vital when dealing with this ailment.

Slapped Cheek Syndrome

Moving on to Slapped Cheek Syndrome, also known as fifth disease, it is a viral illness commonly found in children. The condition begins with a bright red rash on the cheeks, resembling a slapped cheek appearance.

It can then spread to the trunk, arms, and legs. Children affected by this condition are often not very unwell and may only have mild symptoms similar to those of other viral infections such as a cold.

Slapped Cheek Syndrome is caused by parvovirus B19 and is most contagious before the rash appears.

The presence of “slapped cheek” appearance – that red rash resembling a slap mark – along with low-grade fever are typical symptoms indicative of Slapped Cheek Syndrome or fifth disease which primarily affects children between 5-14 years old.

If your child displays these symptoms, it may be best to consult their healthcare provider for further evaluation and management if required.

Sore Throat

A sore throat can be a symptom of various illnesses like cold, flu, or strep throat. It may cause pain and irritation when swallowing. If your child has a sore throat along with a fever, it’s important to keep them at home to prevent spreading any contagious infections at school.

Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter medications like throat lozenges for relief. If the sore throat persists or worsens, consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation.


Threadworms, also known as pinworms, are small parasitic worms that infect the human intestine. They can cause itching around the anus, especially at night. The infection occurs through ingesting threadworm eggs, which can be found on contaminated hands or surfaces.

Keeping fingernails short and maintaining good hygiene practices such as washing hands regularly can help prevent the spread of threadworm infections within families and schools. If a close contact has been diagnosed with threadworms, it’s important to seek medical advice for testing and appropriate treatment to prevent re-infection.

Additionally, ensuring that bedding, towels, and clothes are frequently washed in hot water helps eliminate any eggs present on these items. It’s essential to pay attention to personal hygiene habits and encourage them in children too.

Vomiting and Diarrhoea

If your child has vomiting or diarrhoea, it’s best to keep them at home until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours. Encourage them to drink plenty of fluids and avoid dairy, fatty foods, and those high in sugar.

If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical advice promptly to rule out any underlying causes.

The presence of vomiting and diarrhea in children can be indicative of various conditions such as gastroenteritis, food poisoning, rotavirus infection, norovirus infection amongst others.

Maintaining good hand hygiene practices can help prevent the spread of these infections among children at school. It’s important to remind your child about washing their hands regularly with soap and water especially after using the toilet and before eating meals.

Protecting Your Child’s Health at School

School children in face masks sanitizing hands in a bustling school environment.

Ensure your child is up to date with vaccinations, encourage them to practice good hygiene habits, and teach them preventative measures against cold and flu. Read more about protecting your child’s health at school.


Vaccinations are vital for safeguarding your child’s health at school. Ensure your child is up to date with their measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and flu vaccinations. The meningococcal vaccine, menACWY, is also crucial for protecting against meningitis and septicaemia.

It’s important to discuss the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine with your healthcare provider to shield against certain cancers. Keep in mind that routine vaccinations not only protect your child but also prevent the spread of infectious diseases within the school community.

Transitioning from vaccination efforts, let’s delve into hygiene habits for maintaining a healthy environment at school.

Hygiene Habits

Good hygiene habits are essential to safeguard your child’s health at school. Here are some simple but critical tips to follow:

  1. Encourage regular handwashing with soap and water, especially before meals and after using the toilet.
  2. Teach your child to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when they cough or sneeze.
  3. Regularly clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces, such as door handles, desks, and toys.
  4. Advise your child not to share personal items like water bottles, utensils, or combs with others.
  5. Promote the use of tissues for wiping noses and ensure proper disposal after use.

Following these practices can help prevent the spread of illnesses among children in school.

Next, let’s delve into “Cold and Flu Prevention” as part of protecting your child’s health at school.

Cold and Flu Prevention

Cold and flu prevention is crucial for safeguarding your child’s health at school. Here are some practical tips to help minimise the risk of illness:

  1. Wash hands frequently with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and before eating.
  2. Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser when soap and water are not available.
  3. Encourage your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, rather than their hands.
  4. Ensure they get enough sleep each night to support their immune system.
  5. Provide a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables to boost their overall health.

These measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of your child falling ill at school, ensuring they can stay focused on learning.

Next: Resources and Support

Resources and Support

Explore mental health tools and training for professionals to safeguard your child’s well-being at school. Access educational resources, including guidance on vaccinations and hygiene habits, to protect against colds and flu.

Mental Health Tools

It’s crucial to equip yourself with mental health tools to support your child’s well-being. Encourage open communication and create a safe space for them to express their feelings without judgement.

Utilise relaxation techniques like deep breathing or mindfulness exercises, helping them manage stress and anxiety effectively.

Incorporate physical activities into their routine as it can positively impact their mental health. Consider seeking professional support from school counsellors or therapists if needed, ensuring they have access to the necessary resources and guidance for any emotional challenges they may face.

Education and Training for Professionals

Transitioning from mental health tools, education and training for professionals play a vital role in supporting students’ well-being. With the complexities of various childhood ailments and medical conditions, professionals need tailored education to navigate these challenges.

Training covers safeguarding guidelines, vaccinations such as MMR vaccine and meningococcal meningitis shots, understanding common cold symptoms and gastroenteritis, as well as effective strategies for promoting hygiene habits at schools.

This knowledge equips them to provide holistic support for children’s physical and mental health needs.

Safeguarding Guidelines

Schools must adhere to strict safeguarding guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of all students. This includes implementing measures to protect children from harm, abuse, or neglect.

Staff members are trained in safeguarding procedures, enabling them to detect signs of potential risk and take appropriate action. In addition, schools work closely with external agencies such as social services and healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive support for vulnerable students.

It’s vital that parents familiarise themselves with the school’s safeguarding policies and report any concerns promptly.

Parents should be aware of the school’s safeguarding policies and know how to report any concerns they may have about their child’s safety at school. If a parent notices any signs that their child is being mistreated or if there are any suspicions of neglect or abuse at the school, it is essential for them to raise these concerns with designated staff members immediately using the proper channels outlined in the school’s safeguarding guidelines.

By working together with schools and actively participating in this process, parents can help create a safe environment for all students.


In conclusion, keeping sick children at home helps prevent spreading illness. Follow guidelines on when to keep your child home and promote good hygiene habits. Consider vaccinations and seek mental health support if needed.

Protecting your child’s health is crucial for a safe school environment!


1. Can my child go to school if their brother or sister has a sickness bug?

If your child’s sibling is sick, it’s best to keep your child at home too. Sickness bugs spread fast among kids.

2. Should my child stay home from school with chickenpox?

Yes, keep your child at home until all the chickenpox blisters have scabbed over. This usually takes about a week.

3. Is it okay for my kid to go to school with a cold?

It depends on how they feel. If they have a mild cold but feel okay, going to school is fine. If the cold comes with fever or makes them feel very unwell, they should stay at home.

4. What if my child feels nauseous? Should they still go to school?

It’s better for your child to stay at home if they feel nauseous or have vomited recently.

5. When can my kid return to school after having measles, mumps, or rubella?

After getting these illnesses, wait until your doctor says it’s safe before sending them back to school.

6. My child has been tested positive for COVID-19; when can they safely return to class?

Follow local health guidelines and make sure your child stays isolated for the recommended period before going back.