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Family Health Services: When Can Your Child Return to School After an Illness?


The health of your child is your top priority. But, their education is also very important.

You want to ensure your child is healthy enough to go back to school without spreading the illness to any of his or her classmates.

So, how do you know for sure that your child is ready to go back to school after recovering from a cold, flu, or other illness?

Read below for a quick guide on how family health services recommend you make this decision. Your child and fellow parents will thank you!


When Your Child Can Return to School

Unfortunately, there is no single rule, exam, or test determining that your child can go back to school. The decision is usually made based on the type of illness and symptoms.

You can also consult health and family services at any time if you are unsure about your child's readiness to return.

Below is a quick guide on returning to school based on several common childhood illnesses and symptoms.

Flu-Like Symptoms

Flu-like symptoms are a broad category of symptoms that includes runny nose, cough, fever, aches, sore throat, and fatigue. At the first sign of these symptoms, consider contacting family health medical services to make an appointment.

Once the fever has gone down and your child's temperature has normalized for 24 hours it may be safe for them to go back to school. But keep in mind that the other symptoms may also disrupt their ability to learn at school.

Vomiting or Diarrhea

There are a number of different illnesses that cause vomiting or diarrhea in children. If your child experiences either of these symptoms you should have them stay home from school.

Once your child has gone 24 hours without vomiting or diarrhea, it may be safe for them to return to school. If they have other symptoms with vomiting and diarrhea like fever or fatigue, consider making an appointment with health and family services.

Strep Throat

If your child has tested positive for strep throat, the doctor will put them on treatment right away. They should start feeling better soon after treatment has started.

You should wait one full day after treatment before sending your child back to school. You child may be able to tell you that their throat is feeling better and that they feel ready to go back to school.

Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

Pink eye is unfortunately very contagious. Therefore, be cautious and keep your child home at the first sign of symptoms.

Your doctor will likely prescribe treatment in the form of an antibiotic. Once your child has been on the treatment for one full day (24 hours) they may be ready to go back to school.

However, if the child is still experiencing discomfort, difficulty seeing, or discharge from the eye, an extra day home from school might be a good idea.

Runny Nose and Cough

If your child has a runny nose or cough without a fever, it could be the common cold. Depending on the child's age and the severity of symptoms, you may be able to send them back to school right away.

Confirm that they don't have a fever and ask your child how they are feeling. If they seem fatigued or not themselves, consider keeping them at home for a day and see if their energy level or personality goes back to normal.

Other Considerations When Child Returns to School

You should always talk to your child about their return to school. You can ask them to rate how bad their symptoms are. Ask them if they want to go to school that morning or if they need more time to rest.

You may also be able to see certain signs that your child is not fully recovered from an illness. Their eyes or skin could look different or their mannerisms have changed.

As their parent, you know when things aren't right. Wait to send them back to school until they seem back to normal.

Doctor's Note

Your child's school may require a doctor's note for them to return to school. The note includes some details about the child's illness and confirms that they are no longer contagious or a danger to other kids.

Contact your child's doctor if a note or authorization form is required.

After-School Activities

Sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities may require more effort and energy than attending school. If your child is ready to return to school they might be ready to return to other activities too.

However, activities like sports might not be recommended if the child is still recovering from symptoms or experiencing fatigue.

Talk to Family Health Services

If you are at all unsure about the decision to send your child back to school, talk to family health services. And if you want a more convenient experience, consider home health services that will come to you.

Experienced pediatric doctors are experts on childhood illness and the risk of spreading germs. They will be able to conduct the right tests, prescribe the right treatment, and give you helpful advice about sending your child back to school.

Promote Healthy Behaviors

Talk to your child about the importance of handwashing. This will help prevent them from getting sick or spreading germs.

You can teach your child how to cough and sneeze safely to reduce the spread of illness. It's never too early to talk about sanitation and health.



Do What's Right

You know your child better than anyone else. It's up to you to make the decision whether they are ready to return to school with their classmates.

Follow the guidelines above for different symptoms and illnesses. And don't be afraid to contact family health services if you have questions or concerns. Ultimately, there is nothing more important than the health and safety of your children and your family.

If you're looking for in-home pediatric care, contact us today and let us help your child be well.


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Serving Columbus, Ohio and surrounding areas 

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