Every child gets sick once in a while. As regulations for school exclusion vary from state to state, talking to the child's daycare provider is the best way to understand their policies. Knowing when to keep the child at home and understanding the daycare's well-child rules can prepare parents for the times when little ones are ill.
1. When a Child is Sick
Each state has different rules about when children should stay home from daycare activities. When in doubt, parents can evaluate their child's condition based on whether her illness will prevent her from taking part in activities, or whether she might infect other children by her presence at the school. A stomach ache might be a precursor to a stomach virus, in which case the school will likely send the child home, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Some facilities may require a physician's note for re-admittance.
Kids Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend keeping a vomiting child at home. While the criteria for exclusion vary from state to state, most experts agree that two vomiting episodes in a 24-hour period constitute a basis for keeping a child out of daycare. Parents can check with a child's doctor to ask if she might be contagious. Once all signs of the illness are past and the child is feeling better, she will be re-admitted to the childcare facility.
All doctors agree that diarrhea is particularly contagious, according to Ask Dr. Sears. Germs can contaminate anything that a child touches, and enters the body when the child puts his fingers in his mouth. Most daycare centers will not admit a child whose stools include mucus or blood. Children should stay home for a full 24 hours after treatment has started to prevent the spread of the contagion. Loose stools may persist for several weeks as the intestines return to normal.
4. What Parents Can Do
Parents can prepare for the inevitable by formulating a plan for a sick day. They may choose to take the day off work, when possible, to nurse an ill child. If a child's parent cannot afford a day off, the workplace might allow the parent to bring her child for the day, provided that the child's illness is a minor one. If a grandparent resides in the area, he or she might be willing to spend the day with the child. A more expensive option is a sick child center at a local daycare center or pediatric ward. Trained staff that can watch out for a sick child's needs and symptoms can help put a working parent's mind at ease.
- Kids Health: Is My Child Too Sick to Go to School?
- Kids Health: A to Z Symptoms: Vomiting
- Kids Health: Diarrhea
- Ask Dr. Sears: Daycare, How to Tell if Your Child is Too Sick to Attend
- Keep Kids Healthy: School Exclusion
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Inclusion and Exclusion Guidelines for Childcare
- NC State University Cooperative Extension: Guidelines for Excluding Sick Children from Child Care
- National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education: Inclusion/Exclusion/Dismissal of Children
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