School And Sickness: Is My Child Too Sick For School?

February 28, 2023

Children getting sick is inevitable, as they are less likely to cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough, and have immature immune systems. In fact, it is considered common for children under 7 years of age to have as many as eight to twelve colds, respiratory infections, or stomach bugs a year. The symptoms associated with these illnesses can leave you wondering if your child’s sickness warrants a day home from school.

School And Sickness

The winter months mean a drop in temperature and an increase in illness. This may make you question whether your child is too sick to go to school. At Holly Spring Pediatrics, we have put together a list of signs that can help you make a wise decision and keep your child, as well as their classmates, as healthy as possible.


If your child has a temperature at or above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, you should keep them home. According to the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), 100.4 is the temperature that signals a fever. Since a fever means your child’s body is fighting off infection, they are likely contagious. Fever can be one of the symptoms of COVID-19, as well as many common childhood illnesses. It’s best to wait at least 24 hours until after your child’s fever has subsided without any medications before sending them back to school.


Children who are falling asleep while doing their homework or eating dinner are likely fatigued and should not be sitting in a classroom all day. If your child is fatigued, keep them home from school while encouraging them to rest and drink plenty of water.

Diarrhea and Vomiting

It can be very difficult for children to deal with diarrhea and vomiting in a school setting. Therefore, if your child is showing any of these symptoms, give them permission to stay home. It’s wise to wait a minimum of at least 24 hours after their last episode of diarrhea or vomiting before allowing them to return to school.

Eye Irritation

Watery, itchy eyes can make it a challenge for your child to learn. If your child has eye irritation, take them to the doctor to make sure they don’t have pink eyes or another contagious condition that can spread in school.


If your child is complaining of a headache, earache, stomach ache, or any other type of body ache or pain, they may be fighting the flu. Since the flu can easily spread to their classmates, you should keep them home until their pain has diminished.

Respiratory Symptoms

While a cough might normally just be a symptom of a common cold or another less serious illness, now any type of respiratory symptom means that a child should stay home. Cough, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, or difficulty breathing are all potential signs of COVID-19. If your child exhibits these symptoms, they are too sick for school, and you should contact their pediatrician. 

Signs Your Child is Ready to Return to School

There are a number of signs that can indicate your child is ready to return to school after a sick day or several sick days. If they no longer have a fever, are only experiencing mild symptoms such as a runny nose, have taken doctor-prescribed medications for at least 24 hours, and look and act like they feel better, it’s likely safe for them to go back.

Holly Springs Pediatrics offers same-day appointments for sick visits when your child is in need of immediate medical attention from an illness. If your child is experiencing one or more of the symptoms above, please contact our office immediately at (919) 249-4700.