It's cold and flu season in Austin, and we've been busy seeing lots of sick kids in our offices this winter. Many parents have been asking when to keep their kids home from school and daycare. Even children with mild cold symptoms (a runny nose, a slight cough) are contagious, and what manifests as only a passing cold in one child can be a very dangerous illness to the more vulnerable (a friend with asthma, for example, or the newborn sibling of a classmate). Ideally, therefore, if your child has any cold symptoms, they should stay home to rest and recuperate, and to avoid spreading the bugs to their friends. However, with parents' busy schedules, we understand that such an approach isn't always feasible. So here are some more forgiving tips on when to keep your kids home:
1. A child with a fever of 100.4F or higher should not return to school until they have been fever free for a whole day.
2. Any of the following symptoms mean your child is too sick to go to school: vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath.
3. Even in the absence of the above warning signs, if your child is not feeling well enough to learn and engage in class - whether from a persistent cough, a bad earache, fatigue, or any other symptom - he should not go to school until he's feeling better.
If your child is diagnosed with a bacterial illness, such as strep throat, and is on appropriate antibiotic treatment, they are generally safe to return to class once they've been on treatment for 24 hours. But there is no cure for the common cold, or for viruses like the flu, so kids with those illnesses should expect a longer stay at home.
And don't forget, whether at home or at school, to teach your children about washing their hands and covering their mouths when they cough, to limit the spread of infection.
We hope these above guidelines may be of some help. Remember, if ever in doubt, or you have any concerns at all, please call us!