Too sick for school?

Fall is officially here and the school year is in full swing! Unfortunately, this also means we are nearing the peak of cold and flu season. Over the next few months, many parents of ill children will be faced with the decision whether or not to send their child to school. The most important thing for parents to consider when making this decision is if the child will be able to learn and participate in school activities. We also don’t want to unnecessarily expose other children to illness causing germs. However, we all want to minimize missed school and work days for both students and their parents. Below are a few guidelines that can help parents make this often tricky call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fever

A fever is body’s way of fighting off infection and is the most common reason parents keep their children home from school. The definition of a fever is a temperature of 100.4 or higher, though some schools and daycare centers will have their own rules. The general rule of thumb is to keep your child home until they have been fever free for 24 hours.

 

Upper respiratory Infections

Most children will have several different cold viruses each winter. A child with typical cold symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, and cough can usually participate in school without any restrictions. Coughs may linger for several weeks after the other symptoms have resolved. It is important to go over the importance of coughing or sneezing into an elbow or a tissue and proper hand washing techniques with your sick child to limit the spread of these germs.

It may be necessary to keep a child home if they have more severe symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, or anything else that will keep them from learning and participating at school. If a child has influenza (the “flu”), they should be kept home from school until their symptoms have resolved. The flu is similar to a cold but is accompanied by high fevers and body aches. We recommend an annual influenza vaccine to help lower the risk of this illness.

If your child has an ear, sinus, or strep throat infection it is recommended that they stay home from school until at least 24 hours after antibiotic treatment has been started. Conjunctivitis (also known as “pink eye”) can be caused by allergies or a virus, but when it’s caused by bacteria it is very contagious and needs antibiotic treatment before the child returns to school.

 

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Children with vomiting and diarrhea should also be kept home until their symptoms have resolved. If there are no other symptoms, older children with mild diarrhea that are able to use the toilet and wash their hands on their own may go to school if they don’t have any other symptoms.

 

Skin

Most childhood rashes are caused by viruses and most are not cause for concern. Certain rashes, such as chicken pox are more severe and highly contagious. If a rash is accompanied by a fever, the child should not attend school. If you are unsure what is causing a child’s rash, it’s a good idea for them be seen by their healthcare provider to find out what the rash is and any precautions that should be taken.

 

Lice is another common reason for children to miss school. In the past, many schools had a “no nits” policy. Experts now agree that these absences are unnecessary and children can return to school as soon as they have had one lice treatment.
Illnesses are a normal part childhood. We can’t keep our children home for every sniffle and sneeze, but we do want to minimize the spread of germs and make sure that our children go to school ready to learn. If you have any questions about whether or not to send your child to school, talk to your child’s healthcare provider.

Autumn Barbero, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

5 Rules for Screen Time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone loves screen time.  Whether it is watching a movie, playing a video game, reading the news, or talking with friends, technology is at the center of all of our lives.  Media and screen time, like most things, should be used in moderation.  While technology use is important in most facets of life today, too much screen time has been linked to obesity, difficulty sleeping, problems in school, aggressive behavior, and bullying.  It is important to help your child find a healthy balance.  A few simple guidelines can help keep screen time in check for you and your family:

  1. Remove all screens from the bedroom. Kids with TVs in the bedroom have been found to watch 1 ½ hours more TV than kids without TVs in the bedroom.  TVs in the bedroom have also been linked to obesity.  Availability of internet and texting in your child’s bedroom gives them unmonitored access to anything on the internet.  Keep all screens (including your own) out of the bedroom.  Try setting up a charging station for all devices in a common area.
  2. Monitor what your children are doing during their screen time! Just like you would ask who they are spending time with on the weekend, ask who they are spending time with on social media.  It is important to teach children what is and is not appropriate to share on social media.  Also, be aware of the websites they are going to and the apps they are using.  Play apps and video games with them!  Then you know what they are doing and if it is appropriate.
  3. Make sure screen time is age appropriate and educational. Not sure if a movie or video game is good for your child? Check out commonsensemedia.org.  This website is run by a nonprofit organization that provides independent ratings for movies, TV shows, video games, and apps.  It provides you with a summary of the game or video and suggested ages for appropriate use.
  4. Limit screen time for everyone in the family. All children should spend no more than 2 hours in front of a screen for non-school purposes.  Think of things you can do as a family that does not involve a screen: go for a walk, play a board game, go to the park, or read a book together.  Any activity that provides family interaction is preferred to screen time!
  5. No screens after dinner. We know that looking at a screen keeps your body from releasing melatonin.  Without melatonin you don’t feel sleepy when bedtime comes.  Sleep is important to help with mood, concentration, and learning.  If sleep is a problem for your child, try a screen fast (by eliminating electronic device use for a few weeks) to see if this helps restore a good sleep pattern.

 

Screen use is here to stay.  Help your child form good, healthy screen habits!

-Ashlee Mickelson, MD Pediatrician