Are Your Kids Well Enough to Go Back to School?
Byline: Dr. Helen Minciotti
I was visiting my children's school the other day when I was stopped by the kindergarten teacher. She was having a rough few weeks keeping her little students - and herself - healthy, and she asked that I write something about returning to school after an illness.
With all the pressures parents face in getting and keeping good jobs, some make it to work each day by bending common-sense health rules. These parents cut recuperation time a bit short when deciding to send their sick children back to day care or to the classroom.
In one common scenario, the day care provider calls the parent, asking that the child be picked up because of profuse diarrhea. The parents then bring the child to the pediatric office straight from day care. When I ask how long the child has been having diarrhea, they'll often report that it's been going on for days.
Though seemingly straightforward, fevers also lead some parents to make poor school attendance decisions. Fever reducers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) do not cure an illness. Even if a parent gives such medicine on the way out the door in the morning, you can be sure that school will be calling in four to six hours asking for pick up of a feverish child.
Two quick and easy back-to-school rules are:
- A child who has had diarrhea should go back to school only when bowel movements have become solid. This avoids potential embarrassment for the child as well as spread of disease.
- If your child has had a fever, he or she should be fever-free for 24 hours before being sent back to school. …