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Too Sick for School?

Beware! I'm on a rant today.

You see, I'm the mom who asks the preschool director to get other parents to keep their sick kids home.

It's not that I'm unfamiliar with parents' needs to balance kids and work. It can be a pretty tricky juggle sometimes. I've had plenty of mornings myself where I've weighed whether that fever yesterday really means the kid, who's acting just fine right this second, can't go to school. After all, who would notice? And I've listened intently to plenty of coughs and sniffles to try to assess whether the kid is really too sick to head to class.

But today, I'm here to plead: KEEP YOUR TRULY SICK KIDS HOME! Plan ahead for how you'll handle sick kid days. Is there a babysitter you can call in to help at the last minute? Have you and your partner, if you have one, talked about who stays home when a sick child shouldn't be around other kids and needs time to recuperate and feel better?

When your child handles colds easily, he gets a virus and it goes away. You think: No big deal -- all kids get sick. At least I did. But that was before baby number two landed in the hospital for four days because of a virus his brother brought home from school. That was before one fall and winter where every illness -- one per month for 5 months -- turned into a hospital visit. That was before this fall's illness that went on for more than a month, making sleep something of a dream for both him and me. And yes, on his sickest days and when we thought he was contagious, he stayed home.

Okay, enough. Rant over.

The key with having sick kids is to be pragmatic, according to Dr. Ben Gitterman, president of the D.C. chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "If we kept every sick child home in the winter, the schools would be empty," he says. According to Gitterman, parents need to follow the rules and policies of schools, which vary slightly. In general, kids should be kept home in the following conditions:

The Fever: The child has a truly elevated fever -- 101 degrees or greater and most kids who are over 100.5 -- or a continued, consistent fever the day before.

The Cough: A hacking cough or coughing that significantly affects the child's ability to talk, function or feel comfortable. After all, hacking kids are more likely to be sharing their germs than those with a minor cough.

The Runny Nose: Consistent thick, green nasal discharge is coming out. That's a reason to go to the doctor. If it's clear and the child can wipe his nose, he's fine to be in school.

So, let common sense prevail, Gitterman says, and keep in mind that the above conditions don't all mean a trip to the doctor is necessary.

What happens in your house when the kids are sick? Are these guidelines that you've already been following?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  November 29, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Preschoolers
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My day care has a rule if fever, diaherra (sp?), or vomiting, must be out 24 hours following an episode. Even if you follow the 24 hour rule, if the child goes back and still feels under the weather they will call you and you have to go pick them up. That isn't too bad. But I find the public school sends kids home for next to nothing. They sent my daughter home twice for heat rash and once for a cut on her eye that she got on the play ground. The heat rash thing was a joke. My day care provider picked her up both times and by the time she got to day care, they couldn't find anything on her at all. And the cut on the eye, we took her to the doctor and he said it was fine. Just gave her some oinment but he felt it could have waited till after school hours appointment.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 29, 2007 7:10 AM | Report abuse

I keep the kids home whenever they are sick and until they are well. That is one of the benefits of being a SAHM. That said, you would be well served to remember that oftentimes, especailly with viruses, we are contagious before we are truly symptomatic so keeping sick kids home is certainly good for the sick kid, but won't solve the problem of your kids getting sick. There is no correltion between "sickness" i.e., severity of symptoms and how contagious a person is. A better solution would be to make sure your children and all the children in the class practice good and frequent handwashing at school and at home.

Posted by: Moxiemom | November 29, 2007 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Can I add one thing. If your kid is too sick to go to school, s/he's also too sick to come into work with you!

I've been knocked out by a kid who came to work sick because he wasn't allowed at school. I got horribly ill and wasn't allowed time off as I hadn't yet made it past my "probationary" period upon being hired. When his mom caught his germs though, you better believe she stayed home.

Posted by: KT Dell | November 29, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Stacy- I hate to say it, but if your child is the kind for whom every virus lands him in the hospital, then you ought to reconsider whether he should be cared for in a large group setting. As Moxiemom points out, kids are often contagious before they show symptoms of illness. Good hygeine can help but a day care center can only do so much.

You might have to consider a small home-based day care or a nanny if your child has too many health issues.

Posted by: barfster | November 29, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

My kids don't get sick often, but I still get irritated by the sight of kids with gross noses walking into pre-school. 3 year olds simply don't understand the need to not wipe their noses with the back of their hand and then go touch their friends. My girls school has a rule about washing your hands when you get there and before you eat and after the playground, but little kids are just gross (yes, even my own). My neighbors and I often watch sick kids for one another in a pinch and yes being a SAHM helps, but there are several area hospitals and other day care centers that offer sick child care. When I worked after baby #2 I used them several times. They are staffed with nurses and they are well equipped to handle a cranky miserable kid if you simply can't take a day off.

Posted by: momof5 | November 29, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Funny you should post this as my daughter is home from preschool today. She started coughing a bit Monday evening, not a lot, and then yesterday evening the nose really started running. Today with both a cough and runny nose (but no fever) I had her stay home.

I know I'm the minority - most people I know would've sent their kid in my daughter's condition. (No fever? Clear runny nose? No problem!) But I feel bad when I think about her being there and not enjoying it. Thankfully my housekeeper comes on Thursdays so she could stay with her and I didn't have to miss much work. Tomorrow, however, if she still is feeling crummy I'll have to take the day off. Not ideal, but something that I am willing to do.

It is a fine line but I basically follow guidelines similar to what you've suggested. I also get peeved by people who drop off their kids at daycare/school when they are clearly ill and contagious and are feeling crummy.

Posted by: viennamom | November 29, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

This is a troublesome issue for me. On the one hand, we have it pretty easy--with my husband and I working opposite shifts and me in a fabulous job that is flexible and gives me lots of sick leave time, it's easy for one of us to stay home (or in my husband's case, stay awake) when a child is sick.

With my daughter, it's an easy call--she's the sort of kid who gets sick pretty rarely, but when she IS sick, she just conks out for about 24 hours and then is fine. No lingering symptoms. Rarely even a sniffle. But my son is tough--he has an immune system disorder so he is literally sick with one thing or another pretty much all the time. When he was very young, we kept him home a lot. Now that he's older, it's harder to judge--he no longer gets the horrible lingering infections that hospitalized him when he was little and had him on antibiotics and breathing treatments for months at a time, but he gets colds that will last with minor symptoms (runny nose, cough) for WAY longer than a cold should. Right now he's on week 7 or 8 of a cold. I have no idea if he's contagious or not. We keep him home whenever he has a fever, or if he's vomiting. We can't keep him home for diarrhea because he always has diarrhea, and the school understands this and puts up with it. But those are the only things that are definite "keep-home" symptoms. If we kept him home for coughing or for green nasal discharge, he'd be out of school solidly from October to April, and for about a week or two out of all of the other months.

Posted by: Sarah | November 29, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

If your child is going to the hospital once a month from being sick, then he probably has something else going on. That is definitely not just a result of sick kids going to school/daycare.

We've sent our kids to daycare when they probably should've stayed home. They probably picked up the germs at daycare in the first place. And as has been pointed out, the period of when they are contagious does not correspond to the period of the symptoms.

Daycares are germ factories and kids are going to get sick. But they build up the immunities earlier than kids who don't go to daycare, so when they start school they generally get sick a lot less often.

Posted by: Dennis | November 29, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Is Dr. Gitterman serious? Our son's snot is thick & green w/ every single cold, surely that doesn't warrant a day home and a pediatrician visit every single time. I go with common sense (and dcp rules) - with fevers or diarrhea, the kid stays home. For an upper respiratory infection w/o fever, the kid's behavior is my guide. If he wants to play, he goes. If he wants to rest, he stays home.

Posted by: sel | November 29, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

The only time I keep one of my boys home from school is if he is running fever.
Just yesterday the school called for me to pick up one because his fever was 100 degrees. Found out at the doctor that it was due to a massive ear infection so he wasn't even contagious. Sometimes I think it's all a crapshoot. You just can't always tell.

Posted by: momof3boys | November 29, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

This complaint seems to be another case of trying to find someone to blame (and if possible sue!) for any bad thing that happens. As others have pointed out, symptoms don't correlate with infectivity, and I guarantee that if you put 20 or 30 little kids together in the winter they will be sharing germs continuously, no matter what steps you take (sorry, handwashing is not going to stop it). So please stop blaming the harried parents who are trying to get by as best they can, and accept that any illness caught now will probably strengthen the immune system and prevent one later in life

Posted by: BJdad | November 29, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Sure, germs and immunity deficiencies play a part in the contraction of common cold and flue, but I firmly believe that emotional factors such as depression, stress and anger play a greater role. Kids get sick when their Mommy and Daddy fight, or the workload from school becomes too heavy, but even if they aren't physically ill from germs, they will develop stomach ailments that require parental attention and removal from school.

Therefore, when Recognizing the symptoms of high anxiety levels in my kids, especially in the elementary grades, I have no problem taking them out of school for a mental health day. The plan is to spend time with my kids when they feel good. If I let the stress levels build up too much, it's almost a garentee that I'll be taking time off babysitting a sick kid. Any parent would rather spend a day with their child at the park and library than cleaning up barf and spending time in the waiting room of a doctor's office!

Posted by: DandyLion | November 29, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

While I understand that kids are contagious before symptoms appear, I think that for colds a higher standard should be applied to preschoolers than to elementary-aged or older kids. Preschoolers are not as reliable as older kids for covering coughs, using tissues, washing hands properly, etc. Little kids playing together in a preschool setting are likely to pass germs when coughing and snotting and will likely suffer more than older kids if they do get sick. We can't control pre-symptomatic exposure, but we can control exposure once we know a child is sick.

I hate to think of what will happen if we ever do have any kind of pandemic. So many people nowadays reject the philisophical idea of the good of all in favor of their own convenience that public health officials will have a hard time if they determine that something as drastic as closing schools is needed in the face of a public health crisis.

Posted by: Marian | November 29, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Marian, so theoretically, if you keep a kid out of school when they have a cold, then you shouldn't take them to the grocery or any other public place. Are we so afraid of any outcome that is not positive or perfect that we won't even let our kids get colds?

Posted by: Moxiemom | November 29, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Some of the previous posters had it right, if your child is going to the hospital on a regular basis due to common infections (cold, etc); then either the child has something that hasn't yet been diagnosed (asthma, allergies, etc) or you need to change doctors. I'll admit that I'm tainted due to recent expereinces, however I have a very low confidence in doctors to give 100% correct advice. Recently, I've had a Mono test incorrectly interpreted & a second doctor incorrectly perscribe pink eye medication for my infant (probably would have blinded my son if the pharmacy hadn't caught the error).

The frequency of your hospital visits is far higher than I've seen with my two sons or their peers who are in a large day care setting.

Posted by: Bob Smithsonson | November 29, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I think the key part of the original post was:
"And yes, on his sickest days and when we thought he was contagious, he stayed home."
For most parents I know, myself included that is what we do. I always follow the rules as posted by my school and go beyond them when it is clear that the kid just needs to be home. However, the tricky part is that every parent's definition of sickest days and contagious differs greatly from parent to parent. I just try to remind my kids to wash their hands a lot and to not share food with other kids (this is also important to me because my son is allergic to peanuts). I have found that my kids immune systems are improving and we also make sure to get flu shots every year. Especially in a huge public school, illnesses are hard to avoid but we do our best.

As for what we do, if a kid needs to stay home, my husband and I alternate based on our work schedule and what needs to happen at work that day. If I can work from home I do and if he can he does. It works out for us. We don't use backup day care because if the kid is too sick to go to school he's too sick to go to day care.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 29, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

If you're that paranoid about germs, put your kid(s) in a hermetically sealed glass bubble and keep him home. Kids need exposure to some germs to build up their resistance. I went to public school back in the days before vaccines for measles, chicken pox or mumps. Everybody went through the cycle -- if one kid got measles, several got it, they got over it. No big deal. Everybody had their tonsils out as a matter of routine. Now you have pukey wimps who are allergic to everything, have asthma and ADHD. They're stoned on meds before they're old enough to vote. You're raising a bunch of wimpy hot house flowers. If they are sick, keep them home and stay home with them. Don't take them to work to infect your workplace. Taking care of sick kids is part of the parenting package.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 29, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I agree with DandyLion about the mental health. My husband and I were just discussing the fact one of ours who heretofore had always been disgustingly healthy has been much more sickly this school year. I firmly believe the stress shows up in a child in physical ailments, irritableness and even mild depression. Not feeling good but not really able to put a finger on why may be an excellent time to take a Mental Health Day. If we don't advocate for our children and be proactive in their care, who will?

Posted by: momof3boys | November 29, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Lethargy is my main benchmark.

A snotty nosed kid who is running about as usual concerns me less than one who is sleepy and out of it.

Some kids are fever runners and some aren't.

Posted by: RoseG | November 29, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Sorry that your child seems to have a predisposition to sickness in the extreme, and that his preschool perhaps doesn't practice good hygiene at the facility, with the kids, teachers, etc. But our schools (and preschools and daycare centers) cannot be hermetically sealed! When my daughter first went to daycare full time, at age 1, it seemed she was sick for 3 months nonstop. But once her immunity built up, she truly became less prone to sickness than kids in our family/friends circle who don't attend full-time daycare or preschool. Now in elementary school, her teachers are vigilant about making sure the kids wash their hands well, don't share foods, sneeze into the sleeves not their hands, and that all surfaces are disinfected regularly.

I don't send my daughter to school if she's sick (as someone else wrote, standards surpassing school "guidelines" for fever, etc), and knows to take precautions around kids who are coughing, etc.

Posted by: RestonMom | November 29, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Of course they're going to get colds. However, guidelines are there for a reason. A runny nose that requires a tissue once in a while is a lot different than candlesticks of green goo that are constant. A throat that needs to be cleared every so often is different than a phlegmy one that left uncovered will spew a mist of virus half a dozen feet.

I've seen kids in preschool who are not within the guidelines set by the school--guidelines that are based upon the advice of the majority of pediatricians. If you don't want to follow a private preschool's guidelines, don't send your kid to that school.

And moxiemom, I wouldn't take a kid with a hacking cough and candlesticks out to a public place, though I would take a kid recovering from a cold who has residual sniffles.

My point was that preschoolers have much more close contact than older kids. I don't think kids have to be kept home for every little sniffle. I would ask that parents follow the recommendations of the AAP. They don't seem unreasonable as noted above:

"The key with having sick kids is to be pragmatic, according to Dr. Ben Gitterman, president of the D.C. chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "If we kept every sick child home in the winter, the schools would be empty," he says. According to Gitterman, parents NEED TO FOLLOW THE RULES AND POLICIES OF SCHOOLS [my caps], which vary slightly."
To 10:31, a lot of public health officials with MDs would disagree with what you said:

"I went to public school back in the days before vaccines for measles, chicken pox or mumps. Everybody went through the cycle -- if one kid got measles, several got it, they got over it. No big deal."

From the CDC:
"As many as one out of 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, and about one child in every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis. (This is an inflammation of the brain that can lead to convulsions, and can leave your child deaf or mentally retarded.) For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it. . .Measles kills almost 1 million children in the world each year."

Posted by: Marian | November 29, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't take a kid with a hacking cough and candlesticks out to a public place, though I would take a kid recovering from a cold who has residual sniffles.

What you are not understanding is that the kid with the hacking cough is not necessarily sicker or more contagious than the kid with the sniffles. Given that most infections are shared prior to symptoms, I keep my child home when they are sick because they don't feel good and need to rest, not to spare the others. Where do you think your kids got the virus? The idea that the kid with the runny nose is infecting the whole class is false and a silly measure of whether the keep a child out of school.

As an aside both my winter children were early and could have died if they contracted the RSV virus. So I did not take either child to a public place other than the pediatrician for 4 long and lonley months. DD was able to get the shots, but my ped. still said not to take her out. So, we didn't.

Posted by: Moxiemom | November 29, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I don't think the color of snot is as perfectly indicative of the type of illness as some doctors think.

Anyway, I found your post funny, Stacey, if only because you go on a rant about keeping sick kids home and then go on to cite recommendations from a doctor who says to let kids with minor illnesses (colds, etc.) go to school.

The thing is, Stacey, that a regular cold for some other kid may have been what sent your kid to the hospital.

Posted by: Ryan | November 29, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"Our son's snot is thick & green w/ every single cold"

Sel, is it possible that he has a lingering low-level sinus infection that just hasn't gotten knocked out?

Posted by: Tom T. | November 29, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I do understand that presymptomatic kids spread viruses. Kids with active symptoms also spread viruses, don't they? Snot and the vapor that comes from coughing people do contain germs, no? If four kids in a class are carriers--two presymptomatic and two with symptoms, all four can spread illness, can't they? We can't do anything about the two presymptomatic kids, but parents can keep two kids we know are contagious out. Why does the gentleman from the American Academy of Pediatrics bother with the guidelines if it's no help to keep symptomatic kids out of school?

I agree that it probably doesn't make a lot of difference for kids in elementary grades (and up). My opinion is that it makes sense to keep sick kids from wiping continually running noses on their hands and then touching toys in a preschool setting. I don't think that most preschoolers will use a tissue that effectively on a continually running nose.

I concede your point that as the CDC says, it's not necessary to keep kids home "who are well enough to go to school" (CDC's words). In the document I read, the CDC does not define what "well enough" means. I think the advice of the head of the DC chapter of the AAP is reasonable in terms of defining what it means to be well enough. As he is quoted above, "hacking kids are more likely to be sharing their germs than those with a minor cough. . .
if. . .the child can wipe his nose, he's fine to be in school."

Posted by: Marian | November 29, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, if your kids are sick, keep them home. I teach Pre-K and in the past have used up all of my sick leave due to illness brought in by the kids. To the point where I had the (non) choice of taking leave without pay or coming in sick.

Medicating your kid and sending them in doesn't help. I can tell something is wrong because your usually active kid is falling asleep at the snack table. I let them lay down and I call you to pick them up.

Please, please, please, if your child is NOT feeling good, keep them at home to get better. I love my job (otherwise I would have quit years ago), I love working with kids, but, I do not like being sick all the time.

Thanks!! This is a HUGE issue for me...I am going to print out this entry and send it home with the kids:)

Posted by: pre-kteacher | November 29, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I am going to print out this entry and send it home with the kids:)

That's not passive aggressive at all. Should make you really popular. You sound like the landscaper who complains about all the dirt.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 29, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

It does seem absurdly unfair that contagion is greatest before symptoms appear. I don't keep my kids out of school because they'd spread their bugs -- I keep them out of school because they're too sick to participate (though there's always that last day at home when they prove they're perfectly fine and I wish I'd sent them off to school!)
Good sleep, healthy food, and, like DandyLion said, not too much stress -- that's my prescription for illness prevention. Germs are everywhere!

Posted by: anne.saunders | November 29, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Though I should add, I'm not blaming Stacey for her son's illness. Even well-fed, well-rested, unstressed kids get sick sometimes and that particular virus sounds like it gave them both a really rough ride.

Posted by: anne.saunders | November 29, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Ryan: You are correct; a regular cold for other kids is not a regular cold for my asthmatic one. Unless you're a parent of a child who takes colds hard, I believe it's sometimes hard to see what a virus can do to an asthmatic or otherwise compromised child. And we can't expect to keep the 6.5 million kids in this nation with asthma in bubbles and away from other kids, much as I might want to sometimes with mine!

Moxiemom: RSV is awful; glad you were able to avoid it. That's what caused the 4-day hospital stay when my son was 11 months old.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | November 29, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Colds aren't the only thing contagious amongst kids -- pink eye, skin infections, head lice, cuts or scrapes infected by germs left on surfaces. Kids aren't very fastidious about bathroom practices, either. My stomach turns just thinking about it.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 29, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad someone else thinks pink eye is contagious. My sister, who is an RN, swears on her life that pink eye is not contagious because when her kids get it she does not.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 29, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I feel like I owe you an apology. I certainly am more careful with anyone who's immune system is compromised -- little babies, older folks etc. Then I'm very cautious about visiting and making sure my kids are 100 percent healthy and wash their hands before they have contact with anyone they might put at risk. I'm just not sure I can apply that same level of caution to our public school or I'd rarely make it into the office.
In any case, you raised my sensitivity to the issue.

Posted by: anne.saunders | November 29, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

@ Moxie...was a semi-facetious remark. This year I have only been out once or twice. Other years I have used up all of my sick leave and my personal leave.

I understand that kids, especially 4-5 year olds, are walking germ factories. I wash my hands all the time and get the kids to do the same after bathroom breaks and nose blowing. I am teaching the kids to cough or sneeze into the crook of their elbow instead of their hands. All of the little things that will hopefully keep me and the kids a teeeeeeny bit more healthy this year!

Posted by: pre-kteacher | November 29, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

1:54 -- Your RN sister sounds pretty stupid. Pink eye is very contagious except if it's caused by allergies like hay fever. Tell her to go back to nursing school for a refresher course in contagious diseases.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 29, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I didn't realize this was an issue until I got into the working world and saw how many adults came to work obviously sick and yucky and had to listen to them and deal with their germs- and sometimes it did pass to everyone else.

In school, my mom TRIED to get me to stay home, but I refused because I had stuff to do and missing a day of work and homework was honestly more difficult most of the time rather than being half zonked out in class.

But I have to agreed- yes kids will be kids, getting sick is part of it. But it's just rude and socially inappropriate to be visibly and obviously sick and still choose to go to social events.

Posted by: Liz D | November 29, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Lengthy colds may be a sign of allergies or some other issue. Every time our son got the sniffles, he also got an upper resperatory infection. During one twelve month period, he was on antibiotics eleven times with nebulizer medicine as well. I still get (not visbily) furious when I see parents letting their darling children play on public equipment, like the cesspool play areas in the mall, when they have runny noses.

An allergist finally put him on a daily combination of singulair and zyrtec and he has only had antibiotics once in two years. It is like a miracle. His colds are normal, 7-10 days of sniffles, not the barking cough and fever that all the others had been. I don't like doing the maintenance drug thing, but in this case, we were at our wits end.

Please keep sniffles away from masses of children or areas where children congregate on a regular basis. If everyone did this, we wouldn't have the attitude of, "all children get sick all the time". I didn't and neither did most of the children I grew up with. It doesn't have to be that way.

Posted by: Working Dad | November 29, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

haha, pinkeye always makes me think of that scene in Knocked Up! : )

Posted by: Moxiemom | November 29, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh wait, how about my son's daycare teacher who never went to college telling us with every sniffle that we need to get my son on anti-biotics! I've explained to her over and over again how anti-biotics work, but she doesn't comprehend. I'm sure she goes home and complains to her family about us, but her complaints don't change the rules of science.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Oh good grief. Yet another blog about "keep your slimy germ-ridden child away from my little angel."

Of course people shouldn't send sick children to school. Of course if they've vomited or had a fever within the last day they should stay home. Of course if they're oozing green goo out of their nose or coughing uncontrollably they should stay home. But like others have said,

a) schools and daycares can't be sealed off from all germs
b) often you're contagious before you know you're sick
c) When you sterilize your world, your children don't have any resistance to the germs that do come along and
d) if your child is truly that frail that he ends up in the hospital that often, you have a problem that no amount of care on my behalf will fix.

Perhaps you should reconsider your situation and not send your poor children out into the world if their bodies can't handle it. Don't blame me. My kids have a healthy resistance to germs, stay home from school when they're really sick, and aren't sent to daycare starting when they're infants to be around a gazillion other kids whose parents don't have reasonable and safe practices when it comes to illness and germs.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

It's sad that the schools and preschools even have to have the sick child rules and repeat them daily, because that means we can't rely on parents to use common sense with their sick kids or to be able to stay home with them. We had a couple incidents in the daycare my kids used where the parents were so stressed by lack of sick leave that they sent their significantly ill children to daycare anyway, and as a result *all* of the kids in the daycare became significantly ill and the daycare had to close for a couple of days. (One time was a staph infection, one time was a very nasty stomach virus, one time was fifth disease, and the parents had taken the kid to the clinic the night before and knew that the kid was sick.) If more sick child care was available and/or if parents were better able to take sick leave for themselves and for their children, I would be much less worried about what would happen in a pandemic.

Posted by: Original Lee | December 4, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm just getting over one of DD's beloved daycare colds. I keep her home when she has a fever over 100F/vomit/diarrhea and is just not ready to play. Sometimes, she looks ready to play and then isn't when she gets there and I have to go pick her up. I don't keep her home to save the other kids. Part of the calculation of care choice is the health of the child: can your child take the constant illnesses that are part of daycare, or do they need more individual care which would help them avoid some of these illnesses? It's not up to the parents of the other children to protect your child, or to spend their vacation on ultimately protecting your child.

By the way, that thing about the color of snot really irritates me. The color changes due to level of hydration in the body and also probably which part of the respiratory tract the virus affects. It does NOT indicate an "infection", or indicate the need for antibiotics. That nonsense is so stupid.

Posted by: DopeyMummy | December 4, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

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