How Do You Know When Your Kid Is Too Sick For School!

Are they faking it?

Cold and flu season is here. many classrooms are down by half while kids battle viruses and bugs…It seems, that these days, kids always have something. Cold, cough, runny nose.  So how do you know when your child is too sick for school, birthday parties, or other activities? Dr Tanya Altmann is here to help!



If your child has a temperature of 100.4 or higher, that is considered a fever and he should stay home only returning to school once the fever has been gone for 24 hours and he’s/she’s feeling better.


Mild cold symptoms (eg. Stuffy/runny nose and mild cough)

If you kept your child home every time she had a stuffy nose she’d never be in school. And the older she gets, the harder it is to make up missed schoolwork. So if there’s no fever and the runny nose and cough isn’t continuous or interfering with activity, send her to school.

Bad cold symptoms (such as runny/goopy nose and continuous/bad cough)

If a cough is really bad, the kind where heads turn and look at you like you’re a bad mom for taking your child out and contaminating the world, keep him home until a cough improves.

Vomiting and diarrhoea
If your child is vomiting or having diarrhoea, they shouldn’t be in school.


A sore throat

A minor sore throat usually isn’t a problem and may just be part of a cold, virus or even irritation from the weather or heat on at night. If your child has a more severe sore throat, especially if there is a fever involved or it’s hard to swallow, she should be evaluated and tested for strep throat, which needs antibiotic treatment. After 24 hours on antibiotics, or if antibiotics aren’t needed, 24 hours after your child is feeling better, she can return to school.


Pink eye (aka conjunctivitis)

Pink eye is very contagious. Most cases are viral and no treatment is needed, but if there is coloured eye discharge doctors often assume it is bacterial and prescribe antibiotic eye drops. Your child can return to school after 24 hours on eye drops and the discharge has cleared.



The rash can be tough to determine without looking at it (a photo via email can help). Many things can cause rashes from dry skin to infections. My usual rule of thumb is that if the rash isn’t bothering your child, it doesn’t bother me. If the rash is severe, hurts, itches, is associated with a fever or other illness symptoms call your paediatrician.