For the most part, parents will instinctively know when their child is too sick for school. But there are always grey areas and scenarios which may cause you to question your judgement.
In the first instance, parents need to consider if their child could be contagious. You will also need to ensure he is well enough to participate in a full day of school activities and that a teacher will be able to provide the care he requires without impacting the rest of the class. Sometimes it can be hard to know how to tell if your child is too sick for school.
Generally, if your child has a runny nose or ear ache but is otherwise fine, it will be OK for him to go to school. You can speak to your pharmacist about treatment options.
You should keep your child home from school, if they display any of the following symptoms:
A fever of 38°C or more can be a sign of a virus or infection. Ensure your child has plenty of fluids and keep him home until the temperature subsides. If your child’s condition worsens or the fever continues to rise, seek medical attention.
2. Diarrhoea and/or vomiting
If your child has two or more incidents of vomiting or diarrhoea, they should not return to school for at least 24 hours after the symptoms have stopped. Watch for signs of dehydration as this can be particularly harmful to children.
3. Severe cold or flu symptoms
Flu symptoms generally present a lot faster than those of the common cold. Severe cold or flu symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, congestion and cough. Parents will have a pretty good understanding of whether their child is well enough to withstand a day of school. It’s a good idea to consider whether you yourself would be able to make it through a day of work in that condition and then make a judgement call from there.
Any signs of a rash should be evaluated by a doctor before your child attends school. Many rashes are highly contagious.
5. Red eyes
Unless a doctor has diagnosed a non-infectious cause, children should be kept home from school if their eyes are red, sore, sticky and/or showing signs of yellowish discharge. These are signs of conjunctivitis, a highly contagious disease. If treated early, symptoms will usually disappear within 24 hours, so seeking immediate medical attention is encouraged. If on the other hand, the eyes are only slightly red and watery (clear secretion), it could just be a sign of allergy or tiredness and there is no need to keep your child home from school.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to determine how sick your child is. There are many common symptoms that don’t necessarily require time away from school. We suggest you exercise caution if your child complains of:
1. Stomach ache
Stomach aches can be caused by any number of things including infectious stomach bugs, constipation or even anxiety. It can therefore be difficult to determine whether or not your child should stay home from school. If your child is not showing any further symptoms such as diarrhoea or vomiting, it might be OK for him to go to school. Ensure your child is not experiencing any anxiety about school and seek medical advice if you are unsure about the severity of his symptoms.
2. Head lice
Head lice is common among school children. They can spread very easily but doesn’t pose any serious threat to a child’s health. Recommendations from the NSW Department of Education suggest that you:
- Remove head lice and eggs
- Inform the school
- Continue to send your child to school.
Many children will experience several coughs throughout the school year. Viral infections can be easily spread by coughing. Teach your child to cough into their elbow and practise good hand hygiene. Some coughs are more severe than others and could be caused by more serious illness such as bronchitis, pneumonia or whooping cough. Seek medical attention if your child has a severe cough and shows signs of wheezing or breathing difficulties.
If your child is consistently finding excuses to stay home from school, there may be other issues preventing him from wanting to attend. We encourage parents to talk to their son to find out if anything at school is worrying or upsetting him. Talking to teachers to find out if they have noticed any changes or signs of unhappiness in your child will also be worthwhile.
Reluctance to go to school is common for children in the early years as they adjust to this new environment. As they encounter significant changes in academic expectations, a similar reluctance may arise again. It’s important to keep on top of this behaviour to rule out anxiety disorders and depression. In the first instance, parents need to maintain a balance between support and routine. Show empathy but enforce some rules about staying at home (such as no TV or devices), to discourage your child from wanting to stay home too often.
If your child is being bullied or experiencing academic difficulties, it is important to seek support from the school and reassure your child that you will help him to overcome his difficulties. Trinity Education Support Services (TESS) has registered psychologists on staff who welcome contact from anyone in Trinity’s parent community who wants to discuss concerns relating to their children. You can reach TESS directly on 9581 6035.
Trinity’s Pastoral Care guidelines focus on the fundamentals of good parenting — providing both care and discipline — enabling boys to grow into self-confident, trustworthy and resilient young men. Combined with an ongoing partnership between the School and home, your son will thrive in a consistent, caring and nurturing environment.
Our Life Skills Programme is part of a whole of School approach to health and wellbeing that enhances our boys’ capacity to be emotionally resilient and socially competent. Discover more by downloading our Year 8 Life Skills guide now.