When should your child stay at home?

Here is a situation that many parents are sometimes faced with: You child has woken up and is complaining about feeling unwell; it is necessary to decide whether to keep your child off school that day.


Here are a few pieces of advice that may help you decide:


  • Before bedtime, always check if the child is showing signs or symptoms of an illness. In the morning, you should check again. An illness can worsen overnight. How is your child? Is your child active, energetic, indolent, lethargic, touchy, irritable, feverish or displaying some other symptoms?
  • Children can go to school if they have a runny nose but feel well otherwise. But they should not be sent to school in case of a severe cough or a continuous mucus. Furthermore, if the cough is accompanied by rapid, heavy breathing, report the symptoms to the child’s doctor.
  • If the child has a rash, it is necessary to determine the cause. The child can go to school if the rash is covered. However, a rash without an obvious cause can be a sign of measles, chickenpox or another contagious disease. Look out for symptoms such as a fever, a bad mood, lethargy, unusual touchiness or a general feeling of discomfort.
  • A child who has vomiting should stay at home. Unless the cause is obvious (a reaction to some new food), you should ask for a doctor’s advice. Diarrhoea is another reason for keeping your child at home. The youngest pupils may not be able to prevent “accidents”.
  • As for temperature, if a reading is less than 37.7 C, you should not be worried. However, if it is above 37.7 and especially if accompanied by a sore throat or a rash, it can be a sign of a more serious illness. Look after your child at home and report the symptoms to the child’s doctor.
  • Children often complain of an upset stomach. There may be several reasons, e.g. an exam or a situation at school potentially causing anxiety. The pain is probably not serious if the child continues to play or take part in other activities. However, if that stomach ache is accompanied by a diarrhoea or vomiting, the child should stay at home. If the child complains of an upset stomach for several days, a doctor should be asked for advice.