Sickness is a part of childhood, whether it’s a fever, sore throat, cough or just not feeling well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the typical child has 6 to 12 illnesses a year ranging from mild to severe. Illness can occur throughout the year, but tends to cluster in the winter due to flu season. These illnesses can seem to spread like wild fire affecting other students, teachers, and family members.

Many illnesses can be stopped before they spread by reminding everyone to practice frequent hand washing, blowing noses into tissues, covering mouths when coughing or sneezing, and asking other parents about symptoms in their kids before arranging play dates and carpools. Sometimes staying home is the only way to benefit our kids, our communities and us.

Contagious illnesses in schools are usually passed from child to child by droplets suspended in the air from coughing and sneezing, direct contact with objects that have those droplets deposited on them, or from hand contact with contaminated bowel movement. That’s why preventing the spread of childhood disease should start at home before the illness goes too far.

Medical reports clearly state that children should not be kept home from school for mild respiratory illnesses such as head colds without fever or a productive cough. However, you should use the following “guidelines” to judge the difference between mild and more severe illnesses.

1. If your child complains of not feeling well but otherwise has no definite symptoms, your child can likely attend school. Be sure to contact your pediatrician if the complaints persist or other more definite sick symptoms develop.

2. Fever is a symptom of illness and not an actual diagnosis. It is the result of an immune response of the body to a foreign invader (virus, bacteria, fungi, drugs or other toxins) and it is an important mechanism of the body’s defense system against infection. Fever usually indicates that the body is battling an infectious pathogen that cannot live at a higher temperature reason why the body raises its temperature. Therefore, low-grade fever should normally be left untreated, unless the temperature is above 39.2 C/102.6 F.

A child with a fever (above 100.4 F/38 C) needs to stay home from school until the fever is gone for at least 24 hours without fever reducing medicine. If the fever does not resolve in 2 to 3 days, or if your child appears sick with any fever, call your doctor to have your child evaluated.


Fever reducing medication “only” reduces the body’s temperature; it does not treat the pathologic process.

3. Many rashes will resolve spontaneously and are not reason alone to keep a child home from school. Skin rashes that includes; pus bumps, water blisters, or oozing crusty areas (impetigo), or is associated with symptoms such as fever, trouble breathing, swallowing or ill appearance, should be evaluated by your physician. Rashes that are itchy or scaly may be contagious and should be evaluated before sending a child back to school.

4. Cough alone may not prevent your child from attending school unless it is interfering with a child’s sleep or ability to participate in school activities. If he/she has a croupy or wheezy cough or coughs up a lot of green or yellow phlegm or is associated with fever or trouble breathing, keep your child home from school and arrange to have the child seen by their pediatrician.

5. Stool problems do sometimes require a child to stay home from school. This is especially true with diarrhea where the stool frequency is often many times an hour. Diarrhea that is bloody or associated with fever, abdominal pain, or vomiting should be evaluated by your doctor.

6. A child with vomiting, with or without diarrhea, needs to stay home from school. Your child can return to school when the symptoms have stopped and the child can tolerate a regular diet.

7. Children can attend school with mild sore throats if no other symptoms are occurring. A doctor should evaluate any child with a sore throat associated with fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, or difficulty swallowing before returning to school. A child with a diagnosis of strep throat needs to stay out of school until on antibiotics for 24 hours.

8. Children should also stay home if:

Complains of constant stomach pains or walks stooped over and holding his stomach; Has sores in the mouth or is drooling because it hurts to swallow; Has pinkness or redness in the whites of eyes with crusting or drainage of yellow or green pus; If skin or whites of eyes become yellow or jaundiced; Has untreated head lice, scabies; Has an unexplained swollen joint, arm or leg and won’t move the arm or stand on the leg; Has a headache for more than twelve hours not relieved by Tylenol; Has a change in behavior or doesn’t act “normal”.

9. Call your doctor’s office for advice if you are not sure about your child’s condition or have questions about whether your child should stay home from school. If your child appears really sick and you can’t get through to your doctor take your child to the nearest emergency room for evaluation.

*For the safety of all students and because the infirmary has a limited supply of medicine, if your child requires any medication for a long term treatment or for an acute illness, please send the medication to the infirmary as students are only allowed to carry cough drops with them


Healthy Living

Good nutrition is the bedrock of lifelong health, and it begins in infancy. Healthy eating can stabilize children’s energy, sharpen their minds, and even out their moods. Unfortunately, kids are bombarded by messages that can counteract this objective. There are a number of different influences, whether it’s Hollywood, the runway, glossy magazines or peer pressure that tell us we have to look a certain way. Also, the constant television commercials that advertise junk food, are leading to an increase in children’s obesity. Overall, these can lead to the development of unhealthy habits in children and teens.

Parents also influence on their child’s body image and if they’re constantly complaining about their weight, it can be detrimental for their health. Kids who struggle with body image may go to unhealthy measures to try to get their perceived ideal figure. While being healthy is important, there is a difference between physical health and going to the extreme. Everyone has his/her own ideal weight and body shape; it’s individual. Children who take unhealthy steps to change their bodies, through diets, exercise and more can have adverse effects upon their health.

The eating habits your children pick up when they are young will help them maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle when they are adults.

Top tips to promote healthy childhood eating

• Have regular family meals. Knowing dinner is served at approximately the same time every night and that the entire family will be sitting down together is comforting and enhances appetite. Breakfast is another great time for a family meal, especially since kids who eat breakfast tend to do better in school.

• Cook more meals at home. Eating home cooked meals is healthier for the whole family and sets a great example for kids about the importance of food. Restaurant meals tend to have more fat, sugar, and salt. Save dining out for special occasions.

• Get kids involved. Children enjoy helping adults to shop for groceries, selecting what goes in their lunch box, and preparing dinner. It’s also a chance for you to teach them about the nutritional values of different foods, and how to read food labels.

• Make a variety of healthy snacks available instead of empty calorie snacks. Keep plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages (water, milk, pure fruit juice) around and easily accessible so kids become used to reaching for healthy snacks instead of empty calorie snacks like soda, chips, or cookies.

• Limit portion size. Don’t insist your child cleans the plate, and never use food as a reward or bribe.