Is Your Child Too Sick to go to School?

Nurse taking a girl's temperature
  • Keep your child home if you feel your child is too sick to make it through the school day. Your child should stay home if s/he has difficulty concentrating or participating. If your child becomes ill while in school and needs to go home, the school nurse will call.  You are responsible for arranging a safe and prompt ride home. 

    How do you know when to keep your child home from school?  Here are some guidelines.  This information is not meant to replace advice from your child's health care provider.

    • Bad cough or difficulty breathing - Check with your health care provider immediately.


    • Common cold - Student may come to school if they feel well enough to make it through the entire school day are able to focus on their schoolwork and participate in all activities at school. The school nurse can administer Tylenol and ibuprofen if written permission is given from the parent or guardian. If your child needs additional medication in school, follow the instructions here.


    • Diarrhea/vomiting – The student should stay home from school if s/he has more than two episodes of loose stool and/or vomiting. This is especially true if there is a rash or your child is weak or has fever.


    • Conjunctivitis (pink eye) - Student should stay home during the acute stage.  The student stays home if s/he is unable to participate in normal school activities due to drainage and/or secretions.


    • Head lice - The student will be sent home at the end of the program day when lice are first noticed and may return once treatment is started.


    • Impetigo - Student may return to school after treatment and if sores are not weeping or draining.


    • Rash - Students with fever above 100o should stay home until a healthcare provider determines the rash is not contagious.


    • Ringworm - Student will be sent home at the end of the program day when ringworm is first noticed and may return to school once treatment is started.


    • Scabies - Student may return after treatment has been given.


    • Strep throat and/or scarlet fever – Families should follow the 24-hour rule: fever free and on an antibiotic for 24 hours before returning to school.


    • Fever - A fever of 100o F by oral thermometer or higher with one of the symptoms below.  Students with these symptoms should see their health care provider. During flu season, the Delaware Division of Public Health recommends staying home with a fever of 100 degrees until your child's temperature has returned to normal for 24 hours without medication.
      • unusual spots or rashes
      • sore throat or trouble swallowing
      • infected skin patches
      • unusually dark tea-colored urine
      • gray or white stool
      • headache and stiff neck
      • vomiting
      • unusually cranky behavior
      • or loss of appetite


    American Academy of Pediatrics, 2015, Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools
    Delaware Division of Public Health, 2015, Delacare: Regulations for Early Care and Education and School-Age Centers
    Control of Communicable Diseases Manual 20th Edition (2015)