It’s often hard to draw a line on when to send your kid to school and when to keep them home if they aren’t feeling well. Here are some guidelines to help you figure out if your child is too sick for school.

Keep your child at home if they have these symptoms

In general, you should keep your child home from school or daycare if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • A fever over 100.4°F (38oC)
  • Sore throat accompanied by fever, chills or stomachache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Deep, productive cough
  • Trouble breathing

Additionally, if your child has any of the following illnesses, they should stay home. Your pediatrician can advise you on when it’s safe to return to school:

Children also need to stay away from school if their symptoms require regular, special attention, for example if they need to take multiple naps throughout the day or are on a nebulizer treatment.

Safe symptoms

It is fine for your child to attend school if the following applies:

  • Have been fever-free for 24 hours
  • Runny nose or congestion but no fever
  • Eating normally
  • Child is energetic

Children with Strep throat or bacterial ear infections can return to school/daycare after they have been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours.

Children with lice, scabies or ringworm can generally return to school after their first treatment.

When in doubt, check with your child’s school or daycare — they usually have guidelines about what families should do if their children are sick and when they can return to school.


Sarah CombsSarah Combs, MD, is a pediatric emergency room physician and Director of Outreach in the Division of Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services at Children’s National.

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