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Determining If Your Sick Child Should Miss School

By Stepy Kamei

You wake up in the morning, pour yourself a cup of joe, and head to your child’s room to wake him or her up so that they can get ready for school. Unfortunately, as soon as you enter the room, you hear it -- sniffling, coughing, groaning -- and you know you are going to have a tough call to make.

If this scenario sounds even somewhat familiar, you can take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in feeling anxious and unsure about what to do when your child appears to be coming down with some sort of cold, flu, or other mild illness. Flu or illness are the most common reasons for child absences from school in the United States. Even if you think back to when you were a child, you more than likely recall missing at least a few days because you felt under the weather.

So it's understandable if you are a bit uncertain when it comes to determining whether Junior is really sick enough to miss school or not. There are dynamics to consider. Maybe his symptoms seem mild enough and it's not worth missing an important lesson. Then again, maybe he's trying to get out of a test and exaggerating his illness. Hey, you're a parent -- you have to deal with it! 

If you find yourself in this position at least occasionally, you'll be glad to know there are some helpful resources to guide you through the process. One helpful post I found on Everyday Health that deals with The Sick Kid.

First off, it's ideal to do everything you can to prevent your children from getting sick in the first place. Encourage them to wash their hands often throughout the day, including before eating and after using the restroom. A healthy diet and a restful night of sleep can also greatly boost a child’s immune system.

Still, if your child does end up getting sick, you will want to take a minute to examine the physical symptoms being displayed. If it is clear your child will not be able to participate in school in a comfortable manner, or they are likely to spread their illness, it is best to keep them home for the day and monitor their condition closely.

It's not rocket science, but it does take some discernment to make the right call. Schools are a petri dish for germs, and you can send your baby off to class healthy and she can come back infected. That's the way it goes. But if he's going to be miserable at school -- apart from the everyday misery of fractions and dangling participles -- or are likely to infect others, keeping the little one home is the best course.

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