I don't know about you but sometimes, as a parent, I'm not sure how "bad" it has to be to keep my child home from school. Here are some guidelines to follow as you consider whether your child is sick enough to stay home. They represent the more common childhood illnesses and the usual recommendations of the school nurse, the Ohio Department of Health, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Fever: If your child's oral temperature is 100 degrees Farenheit or higher he/she should remain home until fever free for a full 24 hours. Remember, fever is a symptom indicating the presence of an illness.

Vomiting and Diarrhea: If your child has two or more episodes in the past 24 hours or has these symptoms in the night, they should stay home from school. They should remain at home until without vomiting or diarrhea for a full 24 hours. 

Pink Eye: Pink eye, or conjunctivitis appears as a pinkish sclera (white of the eye), usually itchy and painful. Crusts may form on the lids during the night or drainage may be noted in the corner. A visit to the doctor is needed to confirm pink eye and your child should remain at home until 24 hours of antibiotic therapy and discharge from the eyes has stopped.

Rashes and Skin Infections: Skin rashes or sores of unknown origin should be evaluated by a physician before your child comes to school. Many skin problems are very contagious (impetigo, scabies, chickenpox, and others). Some may require excluding from school until resolved and others may only need to be covered with a dressing. A correct diagnosis by your health care provider will determine whether your child should be in school.

Respiratory Symptoms: Students with an irritated throat, watery discharge from the nose and eyes, sneezing, and general body discomfort should be kept home if symptoms are serious enough to interfere with your child's ability to learn. Medical care should be obtained if symptoms persist beyond 7-10 days, fever develops, or discharge becomes yellow or green.

Flu: The child with abrupt onset of fever, chills, headache, and sore muscles (often accompanied by runny nose, sore throat, and cough) should remain home until symptoms are gone and the child is fever free for 24 hours.

If you are not sure if your child should stay home from school or if they need to be evaluated, please call your physician.