Is your child too sick to go to school?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  February 23, 2009 09:09 AM

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We're in the thick of cold and flu season now, and nearly every day I've assessed my kids' sniffles and coughs and tried to decide whether they're well enough for school.

Runny nose, no fever, slight cough? You're going to school.

Stuffy nose, no fever, no cough? School for you.

No runny nose, fever of 101, no cough? Sorry, no school for you today.

But there are days when I'm on the fence. Is that a fever, or were you just running around the house? Is that cough bringing up phlegm, or just a reaction to a tickle in the throat? Who has a math test they didn't study for?

According to a nationwide study conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates on behalf of Triaminic, 78 percent of parents faced at least one situation in the past year when they were not sure whether or not to keep their children home from school when they had cough or cold symptoms.

The National Association of School Nurses suggests that you keep your child home if he or she exhibits any of the following symptoms:

1.) A fever of 100.4 or higher
2.) Vomiting
3.) Symptoms that could prevent him or her from participating in school activities, such as fatigue, lack of appetite, body aches, productive cough (one that is breaking up and bringing out congestion), or headache.

Those are guidelines that many doctors seem to apply to their own kids, which works for me -- in fact, my youngest two are home right now, hacking away (as am I). But what works for you? How do you decide whether your kid needs to stay home from school?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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23 comments so far...
  1. As a daycare provider I have a sick policy in my contract. It states the child has to stay home until they are fever free without medication for 24 hours (parents sometimes confuse fever free since they gave Motrin), no vomiting for a full 24 hours, completed a full 24 hours of prescription medication, if they have a green running nose or barking cough. Schools usually have the same types of policy. Although I can't tell you how many times I have had parents lie to me and tell me they didn't give the child any medication or that the child is fine and then the other parent comes in to pick up at the end of the day and tells me that the child had a fever or vomited the night before. They didn't know the other parent told me something different. Now that child has exposed all the other children in the daycare to what they had. Awesome.

    Posted by dcmom February 23, 09 10:46 AM
  1. When my kids were in daycare, there was nothing more frustrating than the rigid and arbitrary fever cut-offs. When you get a bunch of kids running around and take their temperatures, it is very easy to have elevated temperature. I'll bet you could test anyone of them and get an elevated temp. We used to get called all the time. We'd come home from work and pick up the kid, and they'd be fine. Sitting there, not sick at all. And then, you are out of luck for the next day because they have the 24 hour rule, and they'd be fine.

    There are two issues I think that make the difference (to me):
    1 is the kid manageable at school with whatever symptoms they have? Vomiting, diarrhea, high fever, etc. These are all things that make is so that kids cannot be at school. They can not play, work, or do any of the things that make school (or day care) valuable, and the teachers would need to give them close 1:1 attention.

    2. is the kid contagious? This is the tricky one. Most of the time, by the time they have a real fever (not a transient one), they've been contagious for a while now. They are no more contagious upon having the higher fever. If a simple fever reducer could get the kids feeling fine, there should be no reason they cannot stay in school, unless they still feel too sick. And transient fevers are certainly no reason that kids should be required to stay home. Really, runny nose and cough are culprits for whether kids are contagious and ironically, these symptoms are not considered serious enough to keep kids out. I think providers like the temp cutoff because it seems scientific (you can measure it at least).

    Now that my older one is in school, I ask her, do you feel good enough to go to school? I add that into assessment of 1 and 2 above and make a decision. Don't underestimate your kid's feelings!

    Posted by bv February 23, 09 01:52 PM
  1. My parents never let me stay home from school unless I was throwing up. I'm not a doctor, but I think that being exposed to germs and carrying on with my daily routine as a child even if I felt a little sick helped my immune system because now as a young adult I'm never sick I only pretend to be sick when I feel like taking a couple days off.

    Posted by Dantheman February 23, 09 02:07 PM
  1. Something else you should do is at some point is check what your child's base temperature is when they are healthy. Not everyone has the typical 98.6.

    My own base temperature is lower by almost two degrees, and when I registered as "normal" I was actually running a low grade fever. This caused a lot of consternation with my parents before they thought to check, and a lot of arguments with school nurses thinking I was well when I wasn't before they thought to do this.

    Posted by Kate February 23, 09 03:38 PM
  1. Misinformation causes bad feelings between parents and school staff. Actually, according to your link, those are just "EXAMPLES of the tips" recommended by the N.A.S. N. And the site does not just say "temperature of 100.4", it says "until fever is gone for 24 hrs." In addition the site lists, "sneezing,earache and sore throat" as well as noting that "returning to school sooner may slow recovery and expose others to unnecessary illness." It should also be noted that doctors have a vested interest in sympathizing with the parent in front of them rather than with the school or other children and their parents, all of whom are unnecessarily exposed.

    Posted by wg February 23, 09 03:46 PM
  1. My biggest pet peeve involves people who take their kids places sick. Especially to school. If your kid has a fever, don't dose them with Motrin and bring them anyway! It's so selfish. I also don't like it when parents send their kids to school who have thrown up the day before--they really need another day home to make sure they're not contagious (at least, per the rules outlined above).

    I know people who deliberately take their kids to play spaces, etc. when their kids are sick because they're bored and have nothing to do. (In fact, my child went to one such place last year, and came down with the flu two days later.)

    I agree--kids should be exposed to germs to gain immunity. But one NEVER gets immunity to stomach bugs. There are so many out there.

    Posted by Beth February 23, 09 04:19 PM
  1. "Most of the time, by the time they have a real fever (not a transient one), they've been contagious for a while now. They are no more contagious upon having the higher fever."

    No, not really. Your child is most contagious upon symptoms. Generally speaking, fevers preceed runny nose and cough (unless there is a secondary infection).

    Posted by contagious February 23, 09 04:21 PM
  1. Dantheman, I'm sure that the parents and teachers of all of the children you spread your germs to appreciated your parents' immune-building exercises. I hope that I didn't go to school with you.

    When my kids have obvious signs of illness (high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, hacking, phleghmy, disruptive cough, a runny nose that needs constant attention, headache, etc.) they stay home. If they just "don't feel well" I send them off to school and let them know that if they really don't feel well, they can go to the nurse and I will pick them up. I've only had one come home mid-day in five years.

    I think the key here is that parents who can afford to let their kids stay at home, either because they have paid time off, flexibility in where/when they work, or back- up child care (a relative or sitter who is willing to play nurse to a sick child), are less likely to dope their kids full of Motrin (which we all know works faster that Tylenol) and lie through their teeth at daycare drop-off or send their kids to school obviously ill. I know that even with my flexibility, there have been times when the kids were younger when I my husband and I had to both be at work, in our offices, at the same time so we patched them, sent them to daycare and hoped that the call to come and get them came after the client meeting, presentation, etc.

    A bill that would provide for at least seven paid sick days per year for all employees in Massachusetts is working its way through Beacon Hill right now. We should all support this so that fewer parents have to make the lousy decision of whether or not to let a sick child stay home or knowlingly send them off to school or daycare while ill and contagious to others.

    Posted by Jen February 23, 09 04:48 PM
  1. This article missed the boat. Most schools require a child be kept at home until fever free. And why not? It's ridiculous to think parents would send their children to any school or day care setting with any type of fever/contagion.

    Posted by alquimista February 23, 09 04:57 PM
  1. WG: "It should also be noted that doctors have a vested interest in sympathizing with the parent in front of them rather than with the school or other children and their parents, all of whom are unnecessarily exposed."

    What vested interest do they have? The health of both the child in question and the general health of children they surround is their vested interest. If you mean as opposed to the convenience of teacher and administrators, then I agree. If you mean the health of one child over the health of others, then I sharply disagree.

    Posted by bv February 23, 09 05:13 PM
  1. I understand how complicated life gets when you have an important event at work and your child wakes with a fever, vomiting, etc. You need to deal with it without endangering your child or the other children in day care or school.

    I don't understand, however, when I see an obviously sick child on a weekend day at church, in the mall, at the movies, in restaurants, etc. There is absolutely no excuse for this. It can only be characterized at unbelievably selfish and ignorant of the parent(s). It is a shame that there is not a requirement that parents prove they are adults before they begin a family.

    Posted by seeitasitis February 23, 09 08:03 PM
  1. I've been doing daycare for 11 years and have never seen a kid have a fever because they were running around! If a child really has a fever, they generally don't have enough energy to be running around. A fever is caused by some sort of infection. That has to be the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.

    Posted by dcmom February 24, 09 06:41 AM
  1. "by": Doctors are people. Romanticizing them is dangerous and unhelpful. They are just as capable, as a group, of scurrying a parent and child out of the office with a nod and a "you're right, the school should not have sent your child home" as schools/childcare programs are of sending a child home at the first sniffle. Their vested interest is keeping a parent(customer) happy and paying the bills as much as any other business.

    As for elevated temps from running around, that's why there are minimum temps that are considered a fever. You don't get those from running around. Providers "like" them because they are established by the medical community and public health departments (NOT arbitrary). Also, it avoids the need to have parents feel like one family/child is being favored over another. Your information about a fever not indicating contagiousness is inaccurate. That's why the rule is "24 hours fever free." Would you want someone else's child to stay in the room with your child when he or she is contagious but feeling fine? So that your child is sick the next day and has to stay home?

    Posted by wg February 24, 09 08:53 AM
  1. Jen: Great post.! Full of solid truths from both sides. A good provider knows that situations arise in which it is extremely disruptive for parents to have to keep a child home and a few hours in care is a great help. It's not ideal but I would recommend, when parents do send their child in with the expectation of getting a call, tell the provider, "I know he/she's not 100%. I'll be back at ____ to get" the child. Providers may be sympathetic and keep the child 'isolated'/resting with some books for a short time. It's best for everyone.

    Good tip about the MA bill! There is such a bill at the federal level as well!

    Posted by wg February 24, 09 09:25 AM
  1. dcmom... Please take a look at the literature. Normal kids temperatures range for 98-99 F. Activity / warm clothing / warm food can raise the body temperature many degrees, even above the magical 100.5 F. They may or may not have an infection at 100.5. Please, as a provider, only test them if they have any other symptom. Don't simply test them as a way to lighten your workload for the afternoon.

    Posted by bv February 24, 09 10:55 AM
  1. Our 10 month old was supposed to start her Learn and Play class yesterday, however, when I got up at my usual 0515, I knew my husband had been up since 0330 with her (weird since she sleeps through the night). I went to the loo and saw baby clothes...and one of his shirts, soaking in a bucket in the tub. She had gotten up because she'd thrown up at 0330. Then at 0445. Then again, just after I picked her up to say good morning, at 0530. And again in the ER at 0630. She didn't vomit again until about 730 last night.

    She had no fever, no coughing, no respiratory distress, no apparent fatique (at first) - in fact, we felt like jerks in the ER triage room as she was bouncing and wiggling everywhere...

    But later that day, her pediatrician diagnosed her as having a GI bug. We kept her home.

    She won't be going out today either. She slept from 6 pm to 730 last night when she woke up and vomited again - then from 8pm to 0830 this morning, and was back in bed by 1015.

    Although she probably would have been fine yesterday at the play group, we didn't want to wear her out even more but mostly, we didn't want her to expose any potential playmates to whatever bug she's got.

    I should note that I was raised by an APRN who had what my brothers and I viewed as exasperatingly strict criteria with regards to what warranted a sick day for us. Our fevers had to be over 100 and/or we had to be vomiting. I don't ever remember getting headaches as a child, but that wouldn't have sufficed. Basically, it just meant that she was impossible to "fool" into letting us stay home.

    We plan on implementing the same standards for our daughter too.

    phe


    Posted by phe February 24, 09 01:10 PM
  1. bv - I have read the literature. I've even taken seminars as part of my childcare training regarding this topic. I have never sent a child home with a fever below 101. Never. It is stated in my contract that my limit for fever is 101. I also take a child's temperature with 2 different thermometers since not all are accurate. Only then do I call a parent. If you think that daycare providers send children home claiming that they are sick so they can get a lighter workload in the afternoon you are sorely mistaken. Daycare providers are under appreciated in this world. We work very hard, especially those of us who do home daycare without an assistant. We can have up to six children in our care, usually all under the age of 4. Our jobs are not easy especially when there are parents out there like you who think we send children home to lighten our loads. That is outrageous. I feel extremely sorry for any daycare provider that had to care for your children. I'm sure you gave your children Motrin in the morning so you could make sure you didn't miss work.

    Posted by dcmom February 24, 09 01:37 PM
  1. dcmom - Whatever. You must know. Never mind. But please, spare me the fake outrage, the "my life is tough and nobody appreciates my work" routine, though! It makes you sound silly and disgruntled.

    I never said that fevers were good or _never_ the sign of an illness...usually they are. In my personal experience with my own two kids, more than once, I have been called in because an otherwise healthy and happy kid registered a 100.5 fever. Upon picking them up, they were healthy, playing, and were fine and fever free that night and the next day. Did they have a 100.5 temp, no doubt, I assume that no one would lie to me! Why were they tested...no real reason is ever given except for the occasional "they didn't seem themselves". Was that the sign of an underlying illness...that is uncertain given the speed of resolution being minutes to a few hours. I am not talking about 103 or 104 fevers. These kids are lethargic and do not play. A kid with a 100.5 fever doesn't even know s/he has a fever.

    Posted by bv February 24, 09 02:35 PM
  1. I am an elementary school nurse, and I'm also a mom. I am sympathetic to working parents whose child wakes up in the morning and says "I don't feel well", but is without a fever or any concerning symptom. By all means, send them to school and see how they do. Most of them make it through the day just fine. But I have seen more than my share of kids who walk through the school door at 8:15and walk into the Health office at 8:30 with a temp of 101 looking terrible and saying "my mom/dad made me come to school". When kids truly do not feel well they are not productive in class, and it's not fair to a teacher with 23 other students to have to deal with a sick student who may be spreading illness to others. The rules exist for the health and well being of the school/daycare community, and they are not arbitrary. My goal is to work in conjunction with parents and teachers to keep healthy kids in school, and prevent (as much as possible) the transmission of illness to others.

    Posted by ilo February 25, 09 11:53 AM
  1. Keep your child from getting sick in the first place! And yes, flu season arrived late this year...Try Germy Wormy Germ Awareness for Germ Transportation Vehicles ages 2 –7! It is a mom-invented , fun and drug-free way for them to learn how to both avoid AND keep from spreading germs. Since my child learned it in daycare, we no longer play the "pass the germs game! Parents, schools and daycare centers are raving about it!

    http://www.germywormy.com
    Give kids a PLACE to give their germs to, instead of you!

    Posted by Maggie Brown February 27, 09 03:43 PM
  1. But why???? Why can't my child go to school on Motrin if she is feeling great (fever is down) and is showing no symptoms. Does going to school make it harder for her body to get well? Is she REALLY more contagious? I've heard several perspectives on when people are most contagious-and no one agrees.

    Posted by Sheryl March 10, 09 03:14 PM
  1. If she needed Motrin in the first place, then she must not really be feeling that great. Of course the Motrin will TEMPORARILY lower her fever and make her feel better. But kids don't just run fevers for no reason. She may have a virus that lasts only a day or two, but you're only masking symptoms with Motrin (or Tylenol). Is staying home one extra day really such an inconvenience?

    Posted by ytmsr March 18, 09 09:15 AM
  1. Hay, I'm Alaina(:

    My parents are really up tight about the staying home from school thing..
    and whenever I'm not really sick, and my parents can tell they just say they wont call the office to excuse my absence.

    Therefore i will get in trouble at school..
    So usually after that i get my butt up out of bed and go to school, haha(:

    Posted by HayyyyALainaHeree April 7, 09 10:05 PM
 
23 comments so far...
  1. As a daycare provider I have a sick policy in my contract. It states the child has to stay home until they are fever free without medication for 24 hours (parents sometimes confuse fever free since they gave Motrin), no vomiting for a full 24 hours, completed a full 24 hours of prescription medication, if they have a green running nose or barking cough. Schools usually have the same types of policy. Although I can't tell you how many times I have had parents lie to me and tell me they didn't give the child any medication or that the child is fine and then the other parent comes in to pick up at the end of the day and tells me that the child had a fever or vomited the night before. They didn't know the other parent told me something different. Now that child has exposed all the other children in the daycare to what they had. Awesome.

    Posted by dcmom February 23, 09 10:46 AM
  1. When my kids were in daycare, there was nothing more frustrating than the rigid and arbitrary fever cut-offs. When you get a bunch of kids running around and take their temperatures, it is very easy to have elevated temperature. I'll bet you could test anyone of them and get an elevated temp. We used to get called all the time. We'd come home from work and pick up the kid, and they'd be fine. Sitting there, not sick at all. And then, you are out of luck for the next day because they have the 24 hour rule, and they'd be fine.

    There are two issues I think that make the difference (to me):
    1 is the kid manageable at school with whatever symptoms they have? Vomiting, diarrhea, high fever, etc. These are all things that make is so that kids cannot be at school. They can not play, work, or do any of the things that make school (or day care) valuable, and the teachers would need to give them close 1:1 attention.

    2. is the kid contagious? This is the tricky one. Most of the time, by the time they have a real fever (not a transient one), they've been contagious for a while now. They are no more contagious upon having the higher fever. If a simple fever reducer could get the kids feeling fine, there should be no reason they cannot stay in school, unless they still feel too sick. And transient fevers are certainly no reason that kids should be required to stay home. Really, runny nose and cough are culprits for whether kids are contagious and ironically, these symptoms are not considered serious enough to keep kids out. I think providers like the temp cutoff because it seems scientific (you can measure it at least).

    Now that my older one is in school, I ask her, do you feel good enough to go to school? I add that into assessment of 1 and 2 above and make a decision. Don't underestimate your kid's feelings!

    Posted by bv February 23, 09 01:52 PM
  1. My parents never let me stay home from school unless I was throwing up. I'm not a doctor, but I think that being exposed to germs and carrying on with my daily routine as a child even if I felt a little sick helped my immune system because now as a young adult I'm never sick I only pretend to be sick when I feel like taking a couple days off.

    Posted by Dantheman February 23, 09 02:07 PM
  1. Something else you should do is at some point is check what your child's base temperature is when they are healthy. Not everyone has the typical 98.6.

    My own base temperature is lower by almost two degrees, and when I registered as "normal" I was actually running a low grade fever. This caused a lot of consternation with my parents before they thought to check, and a lot of arguments with school nurses thinking I was well when I wasn't before they thought to do this.

    Posted by Kate February 23, 09 03:38 PM
  1. Misinformation causes bad feelings between parents and school staff. Actually, according to your link, those are just "EXAMPLES of the tips" recommended by the N.A.S. N. And the site does not just say "temperature of 100.4", it says "until fever is gone for 24 hrs." In addition the site lists, "sneezing,earache and sore throat" as well as noting that "returning to school sooner may slow recovery and expose others to unnecessary illness." It should also be noted that doctors have a vested interest in sympathizing with the parent in front of them rather than with the school or other children and their parents, all of whom are unnecessarily exposed.

    Posted by wg February 23, 09 03:46 PM
  1. My biggest pet peeve involves people who take their kids places sick. Especially to school. If your kid has a fever, don't dose them with Motrin and bring them anyway! It's so selfish. I also don't like it when parents send their kids to school who have thrown up the day before--they really need another day home to make sure they're not contagious (at least, per the rules outlined above).

    I know people who deliberately take their kids to play spaces, etc. when their kids are sick because they're bored and have nothing to do. (In fact, my child went to one such place last year, and came down with the flu two days later.)

    I agree--kids should be exposed to germs to gain immunity. But one NEVER gets immunity to stomach bugs. There are so many out there.

    Posted by Beth February 23, 09 04:19 PM
  1. "Most of the time, by the time they have a real fever (not a transient one), they've been contagious for a while now. They are no more contagious upon having the higher fever."

    No, not really. Your child is most contagious upon symptoms. Generally speaking, fevers preceed runny nose and cough (unless there is a secondary infection).

    Posted by contagious February 23, 09 04:21 PM
  1. Dantheman, I'm sure that the parents and teachers of all of the children you spread your germs to appreciated your parents' immune-building exercises. I hope that I didn't go to school with you.

    When my kids have obvious signs of illness (high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, hacking, phleghmy, disruptive cough, a runny nose that needs constant attention, headache, etc.) they stay home. If they just "don't feel well" I send them off to school and let them know that if they really don't feel well, they can go to the nurse and I will pick them up. I've only had one come home mid-day in five years.

    I think the key here is that parents who can afford to let their kids stay at home, either because they have paid time off, flexibility in where/when they work, or back- up child care (a relative or sitter who is willing to play nurse to a sick child), are less likely to dope their kids full of Motrin (which we all know works faster that Tylenol) and lie through their teeth at daycare drop-off or send their kids to school obviously ill. I know that even with my flexibility, there have been times when the kids were younger when I my husband and I had to both be at work, in our offices, at the same time so we patched them, sent them to daycare and hoped that the call to come and get them came after the client meeting, presentation, etc.

    A bill that would provide for at least seven paid sick days per year for all employees in Massachusetts is working its way through Beacon Hill right now. We should all support this so that fewer parents have to make the lousy decision of whether or not to let a sick child stay home or knowlingly send them off to school or daycare while ill and contagious to others.

    Posted by Jen February 23, 09 04:48 PM
  1. This article missed the boat. Most schools require a child be kept at home until fever free. And why not? It's ridiculous to think parents would send their children to any school or day care setting with any type of fever/contagion.

    Posted by alquimista February 23, 09 04:57 PM
  1. WG: "It should also be noted that doctors have a vested interest in sympathizing with the parent in front of them rather than with the school or other children and their parents, all of whom are unnecessarily exposed."

    What vested interest do they have? The health of both the child in question and the general health of children they surround is their vested interest. If you mean as opposed to the convenience of teacher and administrators, then I agree. If you mean the health of one child over the health of others, then I sharply disagree.

    Posted by bv February 23, 09 05:13 PM
  1. I understand how complicated life gets when you have an important event at work and your child wakes with a fever, vomiting, etc. You need to deal with it without endangering your child or the other children in day care or school.

    I don't understand, however, when I see an obviously sick child on a weekend day at church, in the mall, at the movies, in restaurants, etc. There is absolutely no excuse for this. It can only be characterized at unbelievably selfish and ignorant of the parent(s). It is a shame that there is not a requirement that parents prove they are adults before they begin a family.

    Posted by seeitasitis February 23, 09 08:03 PM
  1. I've been doing daycare for 11 years and have never seen a kid have a fever because they were running around! If a child really has a fever, they generally don't have enough energy to be running around. A fever is caused by some sort of infection. That has to be the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.

    Posted by dcmom February 24, 09 06:41 AM
  1. "by": Doctors are people. Romanticizing them is dangerous and unhelpful. They are just as capable, as a group, of scurrying a parent and child out of the office with a nod and a "you're right, the school should not have sent your child home" as schools/childcare programs are of sending a child home at the first sniffle. Their vested interest is keeping a parent(customer) happy and paying the bills as much as any other business.

    As for elevated temps from running around, that's why there are minimum temps that are considered a fever. You don't get those from running around. Providers "like" them because they are established by the medical community and public health departments (NOT arbitrary). Also, it avoids the need to have parents feel like one family/child is being favored over another. Your information about a fever not indicating contagiousness is inaccurate. That's why the rule is "24 hours fever free." Would you want someone else's child to stay in the room with your child when he or she is contagious but feeling fine? So that your child is sick the next day and has to stay home?

    Posted by wg February 24, 09 08:53 AM
  1. Jen: Great post.! Full of solid truths from both sides. A good provider knows that situations arise in which it is extremely disruptive for parents to have to keep a child home and a few hours in care is a great help. It's not ideal but I would recommend, when parents do send their child in with the expectation of getting a call, tell the provider, "I know he/she's not 100%. I'll be back at ____ to get" the child. Providers may be sympathetic and keep the child 'isolated'/resting with some books for a short time. It's best for everyone.

    Good tip about the MA bill! There is such a bill at the federal level as well!

    Posted by wg February 24, 09 09:25 AM
  1. dcmom... Please take a look at the literature. Normal kids temperatures range for 98-99 F. Activity / warm clothing / warm food can raise the body temperature many degrees, even above the magical 100.5 F. They may or may not have an infection at 100.5. Please, as a provider, only test them if they have any other symptom. Don't simply test them as a way to lighten your workload for the afternoon.

    Posted by bv February 24, 09 10:55 AM
  1. Our 10 month old was supposed to start her Learn and Play class yesterday, however, when I got up at my usual 0515, I knew my husband had been up since 0330 with her (weird since she sleeps through the night). I went to the loo and saw baby clothes...and one of his shirts, soaking in a bucket in the tub. She had gotten up because she'd thrown up at 0330. Then at 0445. Then again, just after I picked her up to say good morning, at 0530. And again in the ER at 0630. She didn't vomit again until about 730 last night.

    She had no fever, no coughing, no respiratory distress, no apparent fatique (at first) - in fact, we felt like jerks in the ER triage room as she was bouncing and wiggling everywhere...

    But later that day, her pediatrician diagnosed her as having a GI bug. We kept her home.

    She won't be going out today either. She slept from 6 pm to 730 last night when she woke up and vomited again - then from 8pm to 0830 this morning, and was back in bed by 1015.

    Although she probably would have been fine yesterday at the play group, we didn't want to wear her out even more but mostly, we didn't want her to expose any potential playmates to whatever bug she's got.

    I should note that I was raised by an APRN who had what my brothers and I viewed as exasperatingly strict criteria with regards to what warranted a sick day for us. Our fevers had to be over 100 and/or we had to be vomiting. I don't ever remember getting headaches as a child, but that wouldn't have sufficed. Basically, it just meant that she was impossible to "fool" into letting us stay home.

    We plan on implementing the same standards for our daughter too.

    phe


    Posted by phe February 24, 09 01:10 PM
  1. bv - I have read the literature. I've even taken seminars as part of my childcare training regarding this topic. I have never sent a child home with a fever below 101. Never. It is stated in my contract that my limit for fever is 101. I also take a child's temperature with 2 different thermometers since not all are accurate. Only then do I call a parent. If you think that daycare providers send children home claiming that they are sick so they can get a lighter workload in the afternoon you are sorely mistaken. Daycare providers are under appreciated in this world. We work very hard, especially those of us who do home daycare without an assistant. We can have up to six children in our care, usually all under the age of 4. Our jobs are not easy especially when there are parents out there like you who think we send children home to lighten our loads. That is outrageous. I feel extremely sorry for any daycare provider that had to care for your children. I'm sure you gave your children Motrin in the morning so you could make sure you didn't miss work.

    Posted by dcmom February 24, 09 01:37 PM
  1. dcmom - Whatever. You must know. Never mind. But please, spare me the fake outrage, the "my life is tough and nobody appreciates my work" routine, though! It makes you sound silly and disgruntled.

    I never said that fevers were good or _never_ the sign of an illness...usually they are. In my personal experience with my own two kids, more than once, I have been called in because an otherwise healthy and happy kid registered a 100.5 fever. Upon picking them up, they were healthy, playing, and were fine and fever free that night and the next day. Did they have a 100.5 temp, no doubt, I assume that no one would lie to me! Why were they tested...no real reason is ever given except for the occasional "they didn't seem themselves". Was that the sign of an underlying illness...that is uncertain given the speed of resolution being minutes to a few hours. I am not talking about 103 or 104 fevers. These kids are lethargic and do not play. A kid with a 100.5 fever doesn't even know s/he has a fever.

    Posted by bv February 24, 09 02:35 PM
  1. I am an elementary school nurse, and I'm also a mom. I am sympathetic to working parents whose child wakes up in the morning and says "I don't feel well", but is without a fever or any concerning symptom. By all means, send them to school and see how they do. Most of them make it through the day just fine. But I have seen more than my share of kids who walk through the school door at 8:15and walk into the Health office at 8:30 with a temp of 101 looking terrible and saying "my mom/dad made me come to school". When kids truly do not feel well they are not productive in class, and it's not fair to a teacher with 23 other students to have to deal with a sick student who may be spreading illness to others. The rules exist for the health and well being of the school/daycare community, and they are not arbitrary. My goal is to work in conjunction with parents and teachers to keep healthy kids in school, and prevent (as much as possible) the transmission of illness to others.

    Posted by ilo February 25, 09 11:53 AM
  1. Keep your child from getting sick in the first place! And yes, flu season arrived late this year...Try Germy Wormy Germ Awareness for Germ Transportation Vehicles ages 2 –7! It is a mom-invented , fun and drug-free way for them to learn how to both avoid AND keep from spreading germs. Since my child learned it in daycare, we no longer play the "pass the germs game! Parents, schools and daycare centers are raving about it!

    http://www.germywormy.com
    Give kids a PLACE to give their germs to, instead of you!

    Posted by Maggie Brown February 27, 09 03:43 PM
  1. But why???? Why can't my child go to school on Motrin if she is feeling great (fever is down) and is showing no symptoms. Does going to school make it harder for her body to get well? Is she REALLY more contagious? I've heard several perspectives on when people are most contagious-and no one agrees.

    Posted by Sheryl March 10, 09 03:14 PM
  1. If she needed Motrin in the first place, then she must not really be feeling that great. Of course the Motrin will TEMPORARILY lower her fever and make her feel better. But kids don't just run fevers for no reason. She may have a virus that lasts only a day or two, but you're only masking symptoms with Motrin (or Tylenol). Is staying home one extra day really such an inconvenience?

    Posted by ytmsr March 18, 09 09:15 AM
  1. Hay, I'm Alaina(:

    My parents are really up tight about the staying home from school thing..
    and whenever I'm not really sick, and my parents can tell they just say they wont call the office to excuse my absence.

    Therefore i will get in trouble at school..
    So usually after that i get my butt up out of bed and go to school, haha(:

    Posted by HayyyyALainaHeree April 7, 09 10:05 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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