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When To Keep Your Student Home

Deciding when a child is too sick to go to school can be a difficult decision for parents to make. Please use the guidelines below to help you. Call your school health room if you need further guidance.

Go to school if your student has: 

  • Vague complaints, without other signs of illness.
  • Emotional upset that does not constitute a mental health crisis.

Keep your student home if they:

  • Are too sick to participate in normal school activities.
  • Need a level of care or observation not manageable at school or child care.
  • Create an unhealthy or unsafe environment for others.

Keep your child at home and notify the school for the following:

  • Chicken Pox: Children must stay home until all blisters have scabs and no new blisters are forming. Call the school to report all cases of chickenpox.
  • Communicable/Contagious Illness: Do not send a child to school with a contagious illness. Your child may return to school after completing 24 hours of antibiotic treatment, or with a note from your health care provider stating your child is no longer contagious. Call the school if your child has a diagnosed communicable disease.
  • Cough: Do not send a child to school with a cough that produces discolored phlegm, or is accompanied by fever, shortness of breath, or lethargy.
  • Diarrhea: Do not send a child to school with any unexplained watery stools, especially if the child acts or appears ill. Your child must stay home for at least 24 hours after the last watery stool.
  • Ear Pain: Ear pain that is new, accompanied by a fever, or interferes with normal activity, should be evaluated by your healthcare provider. Unless they are too ill to participate in normal activities, students may attend school with an ear infection. Untreated ear infections can cause permanent hearing loss.
  • Eye infection: Do not send a child to school with thick yellow, white, or green drainage from the eye. Do not send a child to school with matted eyelids after sleep, eye pain, or redness. Call the school if your child has these symptoms. Your child can return after completing 24 hours of antibiotic treatment, or with a note from your health care provider stating your child is no longer contagious.
  • Fever: The best way to check for a fever is with a thermometer. No child with a temperature greater than or equal to 100.4℉ degrees should be sent to school. Keep your child home until their temperature is below 100.4℉ and they don’t have behavior changes, sore throat, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, earache, irritability or confusion. Students should be fever free for 24 hours (without fever reducing medicine such as Tylenol or Motrin) before returning to school.
  • Flu (Influenza): Keep your child home until they are fever-free for 24 hours.
  • Impetigo: Keep your child home until they have taken antibiotics for 24 hours.
  • MRSA: Keep your child home until drainage can be contained with a dry, clean dressing. Health Services
  • Measles: Keep your child home until 5 days after a rash appears and they are well enough to participate in normal activities.
  • Mumps: Keep your child home until 5 days after swelling began.
  • Ringworm: Keep your child home until treatment is started.
  • Scabies: Students may return to school 24 hours after treatment has begun. Call the school if your child has scabies.
  • Scarlet fever: Keep your child home until they have taken antibiotics for 24 hours and are fever-free.
  • Shingles: Keep your child home until rash can be covered, or all lesions have crusted.
  • Skin infection: Keep your child home until the drainage can be contained with a dry, clean dressing.
  • Strep throat: Keep your child home until they have taken antibiotics for 24 hours and are fever-free.
  • Rash: Do not send a child with a new rash or open sore to school until your health care provider has said that it is safe to do so. All open sores must be covered and drainage contained prior to returning to school.
  • Sore Throat: If your child has a sore throat that prevents them from eating, drinking, or speaking normally, or if white spots are visible in the back of the throat, or a fever is present, keep your child home and consult with your healthcare provider.
  • Whooping cough (pertussis): Keep your child home until they have taken antibiotics for 5 full days.
  • Vomiting: Do not send a child to school if vomiting two or more times in a 24 hour period, or once in a 24 hour period if other symptoms are present (fever, lethargy or nausea). Your child must stay home until symptom free for 24 hours and can participate in normal activities.

Special Circumstances for Covid-19 Pandemic

We follow the TPCHD K-12 requirements for managing Covid in schools. These are updated intermittently by the Health Department and are available for review on the district website. Regardless of your student’s vaccination status or your intent to test, please keep your child home for signs or symptoms of illness such as:

  • Fever ≥100.4℉, chills, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, new/changed/worsening cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, sore throat, congestion or runny nose.

Notify the school if your student has any life threatening and/or chronic health condition such as:

  • An allergy requiring an EpiPen
  • Seizures
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma, or
  • If your student requires a procedure during school hours (e.g. Gtube feeding or catheterization)

Please feel free to contact the health room staff at your child’s school or the district health services department at 253-891-6051 if you have any questions.

References: OSPI Infectious Disease Control Guide for School Staff Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department- Communicable Disease Control